The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to sign linebacker Dont’a Hightower this past week following his free agent visit as he ultimately decided to re-sign with the New England Patriots. Even though Hightower chose to return to the Patriots, I thought you might be interested to see the details of the contract he ultimately signed nonetheless.
Originally it was reported that Hightower signed a four-year, $43.5 million contract with the Patriots with $19 million guaranteed. However, once the details of the deal were reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, we learned that the base numbers of the deal are less.
Hightower’s guarantees include a $10 million signing bonus in addition to his 2017 and 2018 base salaries, which are $1.25 and $5.75 million respectively. Another $2 million of his 2019 $7 million base salary is currently guaranteed for injury only and will become fully guaranteed on the 5th day of that league year.
Now, Hightower can earn up to $875,000 in each year of his contract if he his active on gamedays for all 16 regular-season games. Additionally, Hightower can earn $2 million a season based on incentives that are believed to be tied to league honors and total percentage of defensive snaps played, according to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com.
In short, the base value of Hightower’s deal is $35,500,000, or $8.875 million a year.
Now, were the Steelers in the ballpark of the base value of the contract that Hightower ultimately signed with the Patriots? It’s hard to say for sure but the Steelers do generally stay away from incentives. If I had to guess, the Steelers probably offered Hightower a deal that averaged no more than $8 million a season.
The Steelers weren’t the only team courting Hightower, however, as the New York Jets were reportedly after him is well. Per Pro Football Talk and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, the Jets offered Hightower a five year, $55 million contract that had a maximum value of $62.5 million had he captured all the incentives that were included.
If you believe the latest reports, the Jets essentially pulled their offer to Hightower after giving the linebacker a physical. Whatever spooked the Jets about Hightower’s physical condition is not currently known but the linebacker has dealt with knee and shoulder injuries throughout his career with the Patriots. Maybe this is just a case of the Jets trying to save face, maybe not. However, if the Jets did indeed find something wrong with Hightower you would think and hope the Steelers shared those same concerns assuming they also gave the linebacker a physical.
At this point, there’s no sense crying over spilt free agent milk as Hightower is now off the market. With that said, it will certainly be worth paying attention to his career in New England moving forward and specifically whether or not he misses any games due to injuries.
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