Typically a pejorative used to mock the desperate efforts of mismanaged franchises to leapfrog into title contention, the term "off-season champion" is seldom applied to the New England Patriots. The Patriots will. It's Super Bowl or bust for the 2017 squad. Hightower also met with the Pittsburgh Steelers according to Adam Schefter, and the Tennessee Titans earlier in free agency.
They ended up beating the Atlanta Falcons in a miraculous comeback 34-28 as the first team to ever have the big game go to an overtime period. Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, wide receiver Michael Floyd, defensive end Chris Long and tight end Greg Scruggs are still available as unrestricted free agents. The only domino remaining is that of Malcolm Butler. Reasonable minds may differ on what that price is; personally I think the Jets are better off for not signing Hightower at the price he was rumored to be asking for.
NY will have to go a different route to rebuilding their team after a rough three seasons. Will they draft one or will they stick with Bryce Petty? However, he's a free agent and multiple teams have expressed interest in him.
Sure, the Raiders could jump in at any time if they like. They're the reigning champs, and yet somehow they only seemed to have improved. Less competition would make it easier for the team that floated the idea out there in the first place - like say, the Titans who are considered the only team now in the running - to reel him in.
Signing Dont'a Hightower would be a huge mistake by the Jets
Even so, that may not be enough to lure Hightower away; after all, he has won two Super Bowls with the Patriots during his tenure. According to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora, the Jets are one of the favorites to land Hightower.
Dont'a Hightower is back with the Patriots.
In any event Dont'a Hightower will not be a Jet. Then in Super Bowl 51, Hightower made the clutch forced fumble to give Tom Brady and the offense a short field to help cut the deficit down to 8 points. The drama with the Steelers is telling, however.
But now it sounds like Mother Nature might be a New England Patriots fan and will drive a wedge of winter weather between Hightower and the Steelers.
Things are certainly getting interesting. This is one of the teams that's supposed to be the Pats' main competition in the conference, and they're shook. But for now, his free agent tour will continue. They need to build through the draft.