New England is coming off a Super Bowl win and now they have another shiny trophy to point at in free agency.
They ended up beating the Atlanta Falcons in a miraculous comeback 34-28 as the first team to ever have the big game go to an overtime period.
Dont’a Hightower, a key part of that squad, has decided to remain with the Patriors on a four-year, $43.5 million deal as reported by ESPN on Wednesday.
Sports Trust Advisors, the star linebacker’s agency, posted their congratulations on Twitter by the afternoon.
This contract is a big win for both the defending champions and one of their most crucial defensive players as they try to reload for the 2018 season.
His deal includes $19 million in guaranteed money and that dwarfs the $7 million he made last year during his fifth year of his rookie scale deal.
Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets had interest, but he elected to roll with Tom Brady again for the chance to repeat as champions.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that New York even offered him a contract earlier this week but withdrew their offer after he left the team facility without inking his name on the dotted line.
Hightower is the latest move by the defending champions to improve as they also signed Stephon Gilmore in free agency along with acquiring Brandin Cooks in a huge trade with the New Orleans Saints.
The 27-year-old was integral in bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Foxborough as his fourth-quarter strip sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan changed the complexion of Super Bowl LI.
That wasn’t the first time that the Patriots captain made a game-saving play. He was the one to tackle Marshawn Lynch right before the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, which set up Malcolm Butler’s memorable interception to seal the win.
Now that he is locked up to a big money contract, the club will have to keep an eye on his injury situation as the defensive star has only played a full season once in his career.
He played less than 60 percent of the defensive possessions available in the regular season just two years ago and will look to return to his form in 2014 where he played in three quarters of those available possessions.
Those are all concerns for a later day as New England looks primed and ready for another run at a championship behind a stout defence and the offensive brilliance of Brady and Bill Belichick.
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