Free agent Dont'a Hightower picks Patriots over Jets

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I kid, I kid.

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower re-signed with the Patriots today on a four-year, $43.5 million contract, including $19 million guaranteed, according to his agency, SportsTrust Advisors.

The team has offered Hightower a four-year deal with $43.5 million, $19 million of which is guaranteed, ESPN's National Football League insider, Adam Schefter, reports.

If you followed the reports of this negotiation out on the Twittersvere, your head is likely spinning. Ryan signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the team Friday. The Jets weren't ever a serious contender, but the Steelers were more intriguing. He dealt with multiple knee issues this past year and has only played a full 16-game season once in his five National Football League seasons. Hightower, who has reportedly visited the Jets and is heading to visit the Steelers, is widely expected to re-sign with the Patriots. They pulled out all of the stops to impress him. The 6'3, 265 pound linebacker settled into the middle of the Patriots defense and was named a team captain in 2016 and earned Second Team All Pro distinction. New England's off-season rolls on.

Who's on the Jets' draft board? Some felt he never wanted to leave but was leveraging more money by taking outside visits. All the while, Hightower's camp seemed to be leaking rumors of the Jets' offer. Would Bill Belichick want to lose his star linebacker to a division rival?

The Patriots' first-round pick in 2012, 25th overall, Hightower's best asset is his versatility. The deal he just signed with the Patriots averages $10.8 million. There's no denying that.

Though it might be unrealistic at this point, the Patriots' next step should be doing everything they can to at least bring Butler back for the 2017 season.

Eh, it seems unlikely.