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Reports: LB Dont'a Hightower's free agent tour hits Pittsburgh
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According to various reports out of Pittsburgh, Patriots free agent linebacker Dont’a Hightower was in the city meeting with the Steelers on Tuesday.
The visit to the Steel City comes on the heels of a trip to New York to meet with the Jets – including the team supposedly giving Hightower cupcakes to celebrate his birthday – as well as previously reported interest shown by the Titans and Dolphins.
Many reports this week have indicated that teams across the NFL still believe that Hightower is set on returning to New England, although his tour of potential new homes leaves the door open for his possible departure.
Hightower earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season as he tallied 65 tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight QB hits and a forced fumble while starting all 13 games he played in the middle of the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense and No. 3 rush defense. The former first-round pick out of Alabama has also been a key leader and captain for the Patriots in recent years in addition to his on-field versatility and playmaking.
Though many speculated that Hightower could find a deal in free agency that was more valuable than the four-year, $50 million contract signed by former teammate Jamie Collins with the Browns, more recent estimates have posed the possibility that he may return to Foxborough on a pact closer to $10 million per season.
One thing that could be hindering Hightower’s earning potential on the open market are questions about his durability, as he’s missed 11 total games over the last three seasons to knee and shoulder issues, sitting out at least three games in each of those years.
On the flipside of that coin, Hightower has come up huge in the biggest games for the Patriots, including to help New England win a pair of Super Bowls in the last three seasons.
Hightower remains one of the top targets remaining on the open market at this point, with free agency well past the first few days of spending that historically sees the top players locked up to massive contracts.