Dont’a Hightower Re-Signs With the New England Patriots

Via Last Word On Pro Football, by Henry Brechter

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is staying in Foxborough. Hightower has agreed to a contract that will see him remain with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots for years to come. The deal is for four years, and $43.5 million, with $19 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Dont’a Hightower Re-Signs With the New England Patriots

Hightower was drafted 25th overall by New England in the 2012 NFL Draft, after the team acquired the pick from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a first-round (31st) and a fourth-round (126th) selection. As a rookie, Hightower appeared in 14 games, recording 60 combined tackles and four sacks alongside veteran linebacker Jerod Mayo. When Mayo’s role decreased due to injury the next season, Hightower had a breakout year with 97 combined tackles. He posted 89 combined tackles the following season to go with a career-high six sacks, and became the leader of the defense when Mayo went down once again. Later that year, his shoelace tackle of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX inscribed him in Super Bowl lore.

Since missing four games during the 2014 season, Hightower has been slightly plagued by the injury bug. He was limited to 12 appearances and a career-low 61 tackles in 2015, and missed three more regular season games during the 2016 season.

Injuries are a concern, but Hightower’s talent is unmistakable. He once again wrote his name in the history books in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51 when, on a third-and-1 with 8:25 to go and Atlanta up 28-12, he strip-sacked Matt Ryan at the Falcons’ 25-yard line to set up part of what would go down as the largest comeback in the Big Game’s storied history.

Hightower made his first Pro Bowl after this past season and was named a second-team All-Pro. His youth, talent and track record made him one of the most sought after free agents in this year’s group.