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Mike Giardi: Patriots increased their offer to keep Dont’a Hightower in New England

The Patriots linebacker wound up signing a 4-year, $43.5M contract with $19M guaranteed today. The Patriots had reportedly increased their offer to re-sign the defensive signal caller and defensive captain.

The Patriots let LB Dont’a Hightower reach the market after reportedly rejecting a $10M APY extension before the 2016 season. Hightower bet on himself and had an OK 2016 season, although he capped it off with one of the biggest defensive plays in Super Bowl history with his strip sack of Ryan with 8 minutes left and the Patriots down 16. Hightower and the Patriots couldn’t figure out a long term extension after the season so Hightower took his chances in Free Agency. For him, things did not go as expected.

This may be why.

The Titans, Raiders, Steelers, and Jets were the other teams that were interested, but the Titans were out of the running after the first day of free agency. The Steelers and Jets made a run at Hightower, but likely repulsed the free agent LB with bad negotiating tactics.

There were conflicted reports that the Jets offered Hightower $12M, but the more recent reports from New York refuted that. Jason La Canfora reported Hightower might have had a $11M APY deal with $22M guaranteed from the Jets, but factoring in taxes, Hightower would have less take-home pay than re-signing in New England. That’s why he never took their offer seriously.

The Patriots made sure they closed the deal, upping their offer to 4 years, $43M with $19M guaranteed. A year ago, I tried to use the 2016 LB free agent market to project an extension for Hightower. It was almost dead on as I was off by $1.5M total and $1M in guaranteed total. The move itself was very similar to two offseasons ago when the Patriots upped the guaranteed money to retain safety Devin McCourty.