Prior to the New England Patriots re-signing linebacker Dont’a Hightower to a four-year contract with a maximum value of $43.5 million, he visited multiple teams to assess his market value. One of those teams was the New York Jets. And while they did not have to offer the splendor of being a Super Bowl contender, they had something else: cash.
The Jets at one point offered significantly more money than what the Patriots and Hightower ultimately agreed to. According to a report by ESPN’s Rich Cimini, New York had a 5-year, $55.0 million dollar contract on the table, one that maxed out at $62.5 million in case all incentives – based on game time and Pro Bowl distinctions – were reached.
The maximum value of the deal would have made Hightower the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL. At an annual average of $12.5 million, the 27-year old would have tied former Patriots and current Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamie Collins for the biggest deal at his position – and at the maximum would have gotten $20.0 million more as from New England.
However, the physical Hightower took with the Jets raised questions within the organization. The team was reportedly "uncomfortable" with the results, although no details were specified. Hightower ultimately left New York without a contract and the deal – at some point after the physical – was pulled.
Whether this was a result of the examination or not remains in the dark. The Patriots, though, fully aware of Hightower’s injury history, felt comfortable offering him a 4-year contract. And while it pays less than the Jets’ biggest offer, it was good enough for Hightower to agree to it and return to the team with which he had won two Super Bowls in the past three years.