Hightower returned to the Patriots on Wednesday with a four-year, $43.5 million deal that includes $19 million in guaranteed money.
But now it sounds like Mother Nature might be a New England Patriots fan and will drive a wedge of winter weather between Hightower and the Steelers.
Coveted free agent linebacker Dont'a Hightower's tour hit Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but Hightower left the team's facility without signing a deal. Then in Super Bowl 51, Hightower made the clutch forced fumble to give Tom Brady and the offense a short field to help cut the deficit down to 8 points.
Our Steelers Insider Ed Bouchette joined Cook and Poni to discuss the visit among other Steelers headlines. Losing Dont'a Hightower would have been the only real negative, but after meeting with a few teams, he opted to return, sparing New England from having to fill a key hole on what was a solid defense on a championship team. Hightower's agency SportsTrust Advisors confirmed the agreement. The Jets weren't ever a serious contender, but the Steelers were more intriguing. If the Patriots can fix their relationship with him, there's no reason to believe that this team isn't the favorite to repeat as a Super Bowl champion in 2017.
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Hightower was the Patriots' most important free agent this offseason. The Patriots are also apparently keen to retain him if they can.
It is believed the Jets have offered between $12 million-$13 million per year. Hightower's injury history likely played into that, and it certainly was one reason for the Patriots to hesitate shelling out big money right away. Perhaps Hightower sniffing around two known enemies also got the Patriots to up their deal in the final hours.
In his time in New England, Hightower has recorded two of the biggest plays in Patriots Super Bowl history. Hightower is among the best players in the National Football League against the run, an elite blitzer and has proven capable of making big plays in the passing game as well.
Did it work? NFL Network reported last month the Patriots offered Hightower a contract extension before the season.