One of those players is Dont'a Hightower. The fact that he is touring in his free agency could be a sign that the Patriots have not pitched him the correct number. Hightower visited with the Jets earlier this week, and the Jets had been reported as one of his finalists. There are several quality inside linebacker free agents still available who will likely not cost almost as much as Hightower and may fit the Jets almost as well. And maybe a scone or two, but just as a signing bonus. But, that may not have been the case.
Per The MMQB's Albert Breer, the Jets "pulled their offer after their meeting with [Hightower] concluded". That's exactly what the Jets would be doing by tying up big money in Hightower to pair with last year's first-round pick, Darron Lee. All the while, Hightower's camp seemed to be leaking rumors of the Jets' offer.
For starters, they Jets would weaken the mighty Patriots.
Entering Wednesday New England had around $31.4 million in salary cap space to work with. It is fair to think they had the most confidence in retaining Hightower in free agency, as he didn't even have the franchise tag placed on him.
The Jets lost to the Patriots again.
On the field, the Jets need help at linebacker. But Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill each threw for 300-plus yards and two or more touchdowns in the games where they didn't have to deal with Hightower (Tannehill did it twice). But without No. 54, that linebacking group would have been uninspiring, to say the least.
At $10.875 million per season, Hightower becomes the second highest-paid inside linebacker, behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly (approximately $12.4 million). Hightower shares a lot of characteristics with Tedy Bruschi, most notably the knack for making a huge play at the exact moment the team needs one most. Yes, he would improve the defense, but is he a good fit?
There is a saying that sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don't make.