It appears that Dont’a Hightower will remain in New England one way or another in 2017 (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Last year the New England Patriots chose to trade Chandler Jones instead of Dont’a Hightower knowing that they didn’t want to pay both of them this offseason. Now the time has come to lock up Hightower long term. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that New England will likely franchise tag Dont’a Hightower if an extension cannot be reached.

“The Patriots are looking at the possibility of franchise tagging the linebacker to give sides time to agree on a long-term deal”.

Hightower is the quarterback of the defense which makes him a vital piece. The Patriots have made him a priority by trading Jamie Collins during the season as preparation for this move. Rapoport added that the Patriots offered Hightower $10 million per year annually but did not take the deal.

Last year the franchise tag number was a bit more than $14 million for a linebacker. According to, the Patriots will have $67 million in cap space. Of course, the Patriots never overpay anyone. Don’t expect them to be quiet in free agency either with all of that money.