Jets' cupcakes no match for Patriots' cake boss; adios, Dont'a Hightower

Dont'a Hightower took the cupcakes and blew off the cream puff.

That would be the downtrodden New York Jets, who made a legitimate run at one of the top free agents on the market. It would've taken an obscene amount of money to convince Hightower to leave the Super Bowl champions for a 5-11 team because, let's be honest, why else would he abandon Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots' dynasty?

In the end, Hightower opted to stay with the Patriots, signing a four-year, $43.5 million contract that includes $19.5 million in guarantees, according to his agent. It's hardly a surprise.

Don't be depressed, Jets fans. This worked out for the best.

Don't get me wrong, Hightower is a terrific football player and he's only 27 years old. He would've looked nice in the middle of the Jets' defense, and his championship pedigree would've helped change the culture in the locker room, but there had to be a financial line in the sand.

To land him, the Jets would've had to offer more than $11 million per year. I heard he was looking for $12 million per year from them. That's crazy money for a player who doesn't sack the quarterback, score touchdowns, throw touchdowns or cover elite wide receivers.

As one former Jets player texted to me, "At $12 million it has to be someone who can translate to three or four wins."

The Jets still have David Harris, who at 33 is capable of running the defense for another year. Darron Lee can take over after that if he develops as the Jets believe he will. They can use the money to help other areas. Heaven knows there are plenty of deficiencies.

How much the Jets offered wasn't immediately clear; conflicting information has emerged. One source said their offer wasn't close to $12 million a year and that they dropped out once his overnight visit concluded Monday. Another source said the Jets were "in the ballpark."

Say this much: It was quite a recruiting pitch. Sunday was Hightower's birthday, so the Jets took him out to dinner, gave him cupcakes and posted "Happy Birthday" messages on screens around the team facility.

The Jets gave it a shot, and you can't fault them for that. Hightower would've been an expensive luxury in their rebuilding effort. Life goes on.