Hello and welcome back to Dont’a Hightower Watch 2017™, where the N64 in my closet still works, so we’re getting a Smash Brothers tournament going.
The snow gods smiled on Hightower on Monday night, and he was able to make his flight to Pittsburgh even with a winter storm rolling in that’s plastered the Northeast with a foot or more of snow. And earlier today, word on the street was that the Steelers visit was all that and a bag of chips, with NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala saying that there were “positive vibes” around Steelers HQ about how the meeting was going.
Well, that’s not exactly what we were expecting.
It’s not time to throw your phone in the snow quite yet, though, because it’s sounding like the Steelers are either ticked that Hightower wouldn’t commit on the spot, they’re feeling like they’re getting used to pump the market price up, or both (the most likely). Let’s check back in with Aditi and see what’s going on...
#Steelers are making the LB think before he gets on a plane... https://t.co/cZdQ1wEdeW— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 14, 2017
#Steelers don't want Dont'a Hightower using them. He's left HQ, but he's been told if he gets on plane w/out signing, that offer is gone.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 14, 2017
No deal (yet) between #Steelers and Dont'a Hightower. Sounds like LB is buying time to talk to #Patriots.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 14, 2017
Well, that’s one way to do it.
It’s a safe bet that Pittsburgh isn’t the high bidder at this point, otherwise they wouldn’t feel the need to throw a hard-sell tactic like that on the table in the first place. It also seems like a safe bet that the perception around the league that’s been brewing ever since last week seems to be getting stronger - the longer Hightower stays on the market, the better the odds are that he goes back to New England. Especially if, as CSNNE’s Tom Curran is theorizing, Dont’a’s market isn’t exactly shaking out like he expected.
The best part of it, though, is if the Steelers actually thought dishing out an ultimatum like that would work. If it works, great, but if it doesn’t, all their leverage is gone. Do they seriously think that if Hightower goes home, takes a couple days to mull it over, and then calls the Steelers back and goes “I want to play in Pittsburgh”, they’re going to be like “Nope, sorry buddy, that ship’s sailed, should’ve signed when you had the chance! Sad!”? Of course not. Especially after he basically spent all day talking to them - supposedly Dont’a rolled in right before lunchtime and stayed for almost 5 hours.
Free agency. You win some, you lose some.