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Oh boy, this agent's projected Dont'a Hightower contract is insane

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CBS Sports' Joel Corry, a former sports agent and self-dubbed "NFL contract and salary cap expert", has a potential contract for Dont'a Hightower that will make you think twice about paying him.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hang on to your butts, everyone, free agency starts on Thursday and the New England Patriots have successfully re-signed a key player to a new contract as of today.

What, you guys all saw that fullback James Develin got a brand new two-year deal for a svelte $2.8 million on Monday that very possibly could make him a Patriot for the rest of his career, right?

That brings us back to Hightower Watch 2017, where everyone's been figuring since Halloween last year that it wasn't a matter of IF the Patriots defensive captain would re-sign, just a matter of when.  We do know that the team and Dont'a are still going back and forth on a potential deal, and it's supposedly still a good relationship, but that's where they've been stuck since, well, this time last year.

That's where Joel Corry, a former sports agent and founder of Premier Sports and Entertainment that's moved on to covering NFL contracts and salary-cap stuff for CBS Sports, can help us out a little bit.

And by "help us out", of course, I mean "make you spit your beer out when you see the kind of dollars Hightower could be pulling in."

Thanks in part to his bro Jamie Collins signing a sweet four-year, $50 million dollar deal to be a franchise cornerstone for the Cleveland Browns, Dont'a Hightower is expected to cross the T's and dot the lowercase j's on an even richer contract, whether New England or someone else ends up ponying up.

I mean, look at this craziness.

Contract package: $67.5 million / 5 years

Overall guarantees: $35 million (last $5 million injury only)

Fully guaranteed at signing: $30 million

First three years: $42 million

Are all you guys old enough to remember that Gwen Stefani song about bananas?

Our good buddy Miguel Benzan at PatsCap notes that Collins is now the highest-paid non-pass-rushing linebacker in the game with his average of $12.5 million a year, with Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers is right behind Jamie at an average of about $10.7 million per year.  This projected contract for Mr. Boomtower, according to my trusty iPhone calculator, would put Hightower a whole million above Collins, and since the Patriots are reportedly using the Collins deal as a "baseline", that's no accident.

So, there's that.

If there is a glass-half-full way to look at all this, though, it's this: not only has Dont'a Hightower been everything the Patriots hoped for, clutch in the biggest games, and made the Pro Bowl, he also checks all the boxes for the type of player that I noted earlier this year are the guys that the Patriots - contrary to this zombie idea that Belichick is cheap and won't pay anyone - tend to resign.

The guys that get paid, like Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, and Marcus Cannon, just to name a few, in New England are usually Patriots draft picks, they've dominated their position in the league (or at least been consistently up there), and they've proven that they buy Bill Belichick's newly coined "No Days Off" philosophy.

Hightower, just like Jerod Mayo, the guy he was drafted to replace, fits that like a tailored suit.

Oh, and speaking of Devin McCourty, ESPN's Mike Reiss sounds pretty certain that the game plan here is to let Hightower test the market, just like D-Mac did, and then figure out what the team's offer is going to be based off that.

Or, as Bill Belichick put it, "It's not like if a guy gets to free agency you can't re-sign him. You're in a competitive market, but, you know, you're in a competitive market anyway."

Fortunately, we won't have to wait that much longer to find out.