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New England Patriots return LB Dont’a Hightower on massive four-year deal

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick will hang on to his defensive captain, but a high price was demanded to retain him. Following conversations with the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans in free agency, Dont’a Hightower re-signed with New England today.

According to a tweet from NFL insider Ian Rapoport, the Pro Bowl linebacker inked a four-year extension worth $43.5 million with $19 million guaranteed. With this contract, Hightower’s average annual value will fall second behind Carolina Panthers linebacker, Luke Kuechly.

Hightower was credited with the biggest play in Super Bowl 51, providing a strip sack of Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan. His impact ultimately led New England to a 34-28 overtime victory.

After losing Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones, it was imperative for the Patriots to maintain Hightower.

Through five seasons, he compiled 372 total tackles, 17 sacks, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 12 pass breakups. Since being taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft (25th overall pick), Hightower has earned an All-Pro selection (2016) and two Super Bowl championships.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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