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Report: Dont’a Hightower took less money to stay in New England

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Despite visiting at least two other teams in free agency, star linebacker Dont’a Hightower ended up deciding some extra bucks weren’t worth leaving for.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome back one last time to Dont’a Hightower Watch 2017™, where we always stay after the movie’s over to see the hidden scene after the credits.

Right before Hightower decided that he was heading back to New England after visiting the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers (and traveling through a snowstorm to do it), the word was that the Jets were just opening briefcases of cash to try and convince Dont’a to play for them, while the Steelers weren’t looking to pony up.

Thankfully, Hightower decided last week to head back to New England on a 4-year, $43.5 million contract so we could all stop stress-eating (more details on the contract here).

The other rumor, of course, was that Dont’a and his agent were using free-agent visits as a bargaining chip to pump up his asking price from the Patriots. That perception was so strong that the Steelers told Hightower that if he got on the plane to leave Pittsburgh, their offer was off the table - and now there’s another piece of the puzzle that kind of makes that laughable threat at least make a bit more sense.

Jason La Canfora, the same guy who was keeping tabs on Hightower during his free agency tour, has another report out that both the Jets AND the Steelers outbid the Patriots with their offers - and Hightower turned them both down anyway.

From NESN:

The New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom Hightower visited as a free agent, offered the linebacker considerably more money, league sources told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The Jets were offering Hightower $11 million per season (and cupcakes!), and the Steelers were offering over $9 million annually, La Canfora reported Thursday. But Hightower signed with the Patriots for $8.7 million per season with additional incentives.

That at least makes the Steelers telling Dont’a to take their offer or GTFO slightly more understandable - assuming that they knew what New England and New York had already offered, they knew where their offer sat compared to those, and they also knew that out of those three teams, only one team could sell Hightower on the deal with the most money (New York), and only they and New England could sell Hightower on a decent contract and an annual chance to actually play in the playoffs every year. If Hightower left Pittsburgh without signing, it’d be pretty clear that he was either taking a deal worth way more money, or that the Steelers’ offer wasn’t worth what he already knew he had - in terms of legit championship potential and money on the table - in New England.

Good thing it worked out that way, too, because New England would be paper-thin at linebacker going into the draft without a first or second-round pick otherwise.