Unsurprisingly, it seems the New England Patriots will have to offer soon-to-be free agent Dont’a Hightower a contract similar to the one Jamie Collins signed with the Cleveland Browns to lock up the Super Bowl LI hero longterm this offseason.
The Patriots offered Hightower a contract extension worth more than $10 million per year before the season, and the Pro Bowl linebacker turned it down, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.
Collins signed a four-year, $50 million contract with $26 million guaranteed with the Browns last month. The Patriots likely would have to give Hightower something similar or franchise him, which would cost $15 million for the 2017 season. Free agency officially begins March 9 at 4 p.m. ET.
Hightower is one of the Patriots’ best defenders. He has made key plays in each of their last two Super Bowl victories, including a strip sack Sunday that sparked the Patriots’ historic comeback.
Hightower has proven to be slightly injury prone during his five-year career, however, missing an average of 2.6 games per regular season. Hightower has never missed a playoff game.
The 2012 first-round draft pick was a first-time Patriots defensive captain this season. The Patriots should have plenty of salary cap room to sign or franchise Hightower if they determine he’s worth big money.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
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