The Patriots went into last offseason with linebackers Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower all set to be free agents after the 2017 season.
After re-signing with the team on Wednesday, Hightower is the last one left in New England. They traded Jones to Arizona before last season and dealt Collins to the Browns during the season. Both of them also signed long-term deals with their new teams and they cost a good deal more than Hightower.
Multiple reports citing Hightower’s agents peg his deal with the Patriots as a four-year pact worth up to $43.5 million with $19 million guaranteed. Collins got $50 million and $26 million guaranteed over the same term while Jones’ five-year deal with the Cardinals came in at $82.5 million with $53 million guaranteed.
The three players bring different things to the field and have different medical histories, so an apples-to-apples comparison doesn’t work out. It does appear that the Patriots got a good deal for a player who consistently makes impactful plays on defense by letting him test the market over the last week.
It also appears choosing Hightower over the other two players left the Patriots with cap space to use in a variety of moves. Hightower, safety Duron Harmon and defensive tackle Alan Branch are back alongside incoming cornerback Stephon Gilmore, tight end Dwayne Allen, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, defensive end Kony Ealy, running back Rex Burkhead and defensive end Lawrence Guy with cornerback Malcolm Butler’s situation among those still to play out with just under six months to go until Week One.