The New York Jets met with prized free agent linebacker Dont’a Hightower Sunday. The two sides parted ways without a deal in place and one side might’ve left the meeting feeling duped.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans both exited meetings with Hightower convinced he will re-sign with the New England Patriots.
Hightower might not have ever planned to leave New England. The possibility of him coming to the last-place Jets was fun while it lasted, even if it didn’t make any sense.
Last weekend, a report surfaced suggesting the Jets and Patriots were the leading candidates to sign Hightower. But it’s fair to wonder whether Hightower’s meetings in New York and Tennessee were anything more than an attempt to raise his value.
The initial report naming the Jets as a leading candidate felt bizarre. They had come out of virtually nowhere in the Hightower sweepstakes. New York has plenty of cap space to get a deal done, but so does New England. The Patriots could probably match, if not raise, whatever the Jets were offering and it’s fair to assume Hightower would rather return to the Patriots and try to win another ring than join a rebuilding effort in New York.
Plus, the Jets would’ve had to shuffle their linebacking corps if Hightower signed. Veteran David Harris could’ve become the fall guy, or Darron Lee might’ve been moved to another position. Middle linebacker simply isn’t a pressing need for the Jets, who have spent conservatively in free agency.
It appears Hightower will ultimately wind up in New England after all this and it feels like the Jets really never had a shot at landing him.