The Patriots have not re-signed Dont’a Hightower yet. So should the Patriots still re-sign him to provide a veteran presence? Or should they split up?
After the 2021 season, a priority for the Patriots was to become younger and faster on the defense, which may mean having a split with Dont’a Hightower. Their linebackers especially did not have the speed to match up with electric offenses. They had already parted ways with Kyle Van Noy, and there is a possibility they part ways with Dont’a Hightower as well. Dont’a Hightower’s stint with the Patriots has been a success.
Why A Split May Happen This Season
Dont’a Hightower has been with the Patriots for his entire career. Since Tom Brady left, the Patriots have been re-tooling their talent and trying to get younger on defense. There were many instances where the Patriots’ defense matched up well against the opposing offense; they just weren’t fast enough to make a play. Jamie Collins is likely looking in from the outside too. These moves show that the Patriots are making a conscious effort to become a faster team.
While veterans like Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van Noy have been very productive players for the Patriots and key to their success in the past, it’s likely time for a departure. These players can be solid contributors to other teams. However, the Patriots need to move on to their young talent and give them more playing time to develop into suitable pieces.
New England also acquired Mack Wilson. While his statistics may not stand out, he’s a very athletic linebacker who is a solid tackler. Mack is precisely the type of veteran the team needs, and he provides a unique skill set. Again, parting ways with older linebackers will pay off in the future.
Raekwon McMillan is also returning from a season-ending injury. There has been consistent buzz from the team and Belichick whenever he has been on the field, so look for him to step up in the possible absence of Hightower.
Hightower Has Been A Consistent Producer For The Patriots
Hightower had good statistics throughout his career, finishing with 27 sacks, 353 solo tackles, an interception, and 216 tackle assists. Multiple stats show that Hightower could do many things. He is the winning player most teams need, and he’ll do what it takes for his team to succeed. In addition, Hightower was a constant positive presence as a linebacker and a perfect veteran presence.
Made Clutch Plays When The Patriots Needed It The Most
Dont’a Hightower is a trusted veteran, and a great leader for the team. One thing that stood out throughout his career was his ability to make clutch plays. Dont’a Hightower was always ready to deliver when his team needed him. In Super Bowl 49, the infamous Malcolm Butler interception could not have happened without Dont’a Hightower stopping Marshawn Lynch at the one-yard line.
Another well-known play was the strip sack against the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Hightower is one of the more underrated Patriots’ players who played during the dynasty, and without him, the Patriots potentially would have had two fewer Super Bowls.
Final Thoughts On The Situation
While they may decide to bring back Hightower as a veteran presence, a split seems imminent. The Patriots have acquired numerous amounts of young talent ever since Tom Brady left, and they have already split with other veterans. Hightower can still be a good presence for other teams, but New England doesn’t seem like an excellent fit for him in today’s new age of the game, where offenses are explosive. Fast, versatile, and good-tackling linebackers are needed to compete.
The team lacked speed, which showed in 2021, and having a split with Hightower may help them build for the future better. The only way I could see him return is if they moved him strictly to the weak side edge to try and rush the passer rather than getting caught in coverage, this is mostly a sentimental idea here, seeing how the front office has acted.
Do you think the Patriots should re-sign Dont’a Hightower and he should finish his career with the Patriots? Or should the Patriots make it their goal to become a younger and faster team?
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