Dont'a Hightower returning to Patriots

Yet, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, New York does indeed have a legitimate shot of signing the free agent linebacker, who is one of the more coveted players on the open market.

As the week progressed, it looked more and more likely Hightower would return to the Patriots.

It is a bit surprising to see Hightower get nearly $2 million less per year than Collins, though. If the next four years are anything like the last five, Hightower might also be on his way to the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Free agent linebacker Dont'a Hightower visited with the Steelers for eight hours Tuesday at the UMPC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

Bouchette says that Hightower would strengthen the inside linebacker position, but they need help outside and at cornerback. It figures to be in an annual range of $10 million to $12 million, with at least $20 million guaranteed.

Hightower wanted to return, and the Patriots reciprocated that feeling.

The 2012 first-round draft pick has been responsible for two of the most important plays in the Pats' most recent Super Bowl victories.

Hightower spent the last week fielding offers and meeting with potential suitors, including the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dont'a Hightower forces a fumble by Matt Ryan during the Super Bowl. Hightower has 17.0 regular-season sacks for his career. Are the Jets better off avoiding such a high priced deal for Hightower, or have they missed out on an excellent opportunity to upgrade the roster here? They have been uncharacteristically aggressive over the past week, signing Stephon Gilmore to a monster deal and making a trade for Brandin Cooks. Still, given how the market developed and putting Hightower's injury history into account, the deal is a very good one for both player and club.

Going forward, whenever the Jets and cupcakes are mentioned, it won't exclusively be in reference to their status on the Patriots' schedule.

  • Elsie Buchanan