By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The New York Jets appeared to give Dont’a Hightower the best offer in free agency, but now they’re trying their damnedest to backtrack from it.
Just two days after the free-agent linebacker re-signed with the Patriots (and the Steelers media quickly dismissed him as “overrated”), the Jets are using a media mouthpiece of their own to give their own pitiful version of “We didn’t want him anyway.” Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on Thursday night that the Jets initially offered Hightower a five-year deal worth $62.5 million but balked at it after the results of Hightower’s physical.
Florio added that the Jets “did not drop out [of the offer] but were concerned” about Hightower’s physical. He also notes that the Patriots “knew about any potential medical issues and were comfortable proceeding.”
Hightower is not without injury concerns. He has missed 11 games in the past three seasons with various injuries, and the Patriots defense has taken a dip in effectiveness when he’s not on the field. But he’s also presumably played hurt and come up with huge plays in the team’s past two Super Bowl wins. And while he’s not the most durable player, he’s certainly one of the toughest. Even 12-13 games of Hightower on the field would be better for the Patriots than losing him entirely.
It’s unclear what the Jets tried to accomplish with this report, which they presumably leaked to Florio themselves. They didn’t go so far as to say that Hightower’s physical made them pull their offer, which significantly outbid the Patriots. But apparently, they just wanted to make the Patriots look bad for extending Hightower despite his injury history. Hard to do when you’re the team that offered him $62.5 million and the Patriots signed him for $43.5 million – which is actually about $35.5 million with the potential to be higher due to incentives.
The Jets may have been offering Hightower more guaranteed money than the Patriots’ entire deal. Meanwhile, the report only makes it even more clear that Hightower was never going to join the Jets, anyway. So which team was really acting irresponsibly, here?
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.