The New York Jets remain in the hunt for coveted linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who has narrowed his choices to the Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.
It would be a stunner if the Jets pry him away from the Patriots. Only five weeks ago, Hightower was celebrating his second Super Bowl title with New England. But we've seen this before. It happened two years ago with the Jets, Patriots and Darrelle Revis, who returned to the Jets after winning a ring in New England.
Hightower is thought to be seeking $12 million per year, which would make him the second highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL, behind Luke Kuechly ($12.4 million).
The Jets have taken a low-key approach in free agency, but they really want Hightower and they're willing to give him a blockbuster contract. They'd probably have to offer considerably more than the Patriots, who negotiate with the arrogance of a organization that has won five Super Bowl titles. When they set a value on a player, they rarely budge. If the player is all about the money ... adios.
If Hightower is looking for the biggest financial score, the Jets will win the bidding war.
Hightower, who turned 27 on Sunday, is one of the better inside linebackers in the league. His arrival could prompt the Jets to release longtime middle linebacker David Harris, 33, who is due to count $6.5 million in the final year of his contract. Harris is a future Ring-of-Honor member, but the Jets are in the midst of a youth movement.
The Patriots raised eyebrows by letting Hightower hit the open market, declining to use the franchise or transition tag. The Jets see this as a unique opportunity to upgrade the roster, and they're going for it.