It appears Dont’a Hightower will be one of a few members of the Patriots to hit free agency next week to see what their value is on the open market.
Ideally, the Patriots would want him back, but as it always is, it needs to be on their terms.
On Patriots Today via Patriots.com, ESPN’s Adam Schefter detailed what the free agency process might be like for Hightower and some of the other free agents the Patriots have.
“There are never a high number of great players available in free agency, and I think a player like Dont’a Hightower, Martellus Bennett, they have made plays and there are going to be teams fully prepared to pay them,” he said. “Now, I think New England is going to want the players back, but I also think New England is going to have its price: ‘This is what we have deemed this player is worth to us and we will find out if that is enough.’”
Being one of the best linebackers in the game, Hightower has a chance to reset the market, according to current ESPN analyst and former Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik.
“We’ve seen with Eric Berry resetting the market, Antonio Brown resetting the market, Hightower could reset the market,” he said. “He really could. I think a lot of people probably look at him and say this is the type of leader, this is the type of winner I want on my football team.”
Schefter also noted just how valuable Hightower has been to the Patriots over his five years in the league.
“I think the amazing thing about Hightower is, you could argue outside of Tom Brady, he may have been the most instrumental player on the Patriots’ past two Super Bowl wins,” he said. “He makes the tackle on Marshawn Lynch one play before Malcolm Butler picks off the pass and if Hightower doesn’t make that tackle, Butler doesn’t make that play. And in [Super Bowl LI] he makes that play against Matt Ryan, the strip sack, ear-hole play, that causes the fumble that in my mind was the key play in the game that turned it around.”