BOSTON (CBS) — There’s still a strong chance that Dont’a Hightower returns to the Patriots, but an AFC East team is reportedly trying to swoop in on the free-agent linebacker.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora tweeted on Sunday night that Hightower is visiting the New York Jets in a meeting that is “supposed to wrap up” at some point on Monday. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added on Monday morning that Hightower visited the Jets over the weekend and also “spent time” with the Tennessee Titans.
Rapoport also said that both the Jets and Titans are “left convinced” that Hightower returns to the Patriots. La Canfora added that other teams have a “very strong perception” that Hightower will end up returning to the Patriots for around $10 million per season.
UPDATE: Hightower is also expected to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter. The Steelers just lost middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins. Schefter added that Hightower is expected to fly to Pittsburgh tonight, but the major winter storm affecting New England could impact his travel plans.
It appears that the Jets’ only chance of actually signing Hightower would be to significantly outbid the Patriots with an offer that Hightower apparently didn’t get elsewhere. Hightower, a native of Lewisburg, Tenn., was linked to the Titans early in free agency, but his asking price was reportedly out of the team’s range.
The Jets finished 5-11 last season, fourth in the AFC East. They may be looking to sign Hightower as a replacement for 33-year-old middle linebacker David Harris, who is on track to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season. But it appears that it will take an overpayment for the Jets to pry Hightower away from the Super Bowl champions.