Holy shit what a day, huh? A recent report out of NBC Boston from MMQB’s Albert Breer suggests that the New England Patriots knew that Dont’a Hightower had a 55% torn pectoral back in the month of March… just one month after they won the Super Bowl.
If you followed the brief free agent adventure Dont’a Hightower, Hoodie Belichick let Hightower shop himself around to see what his value was. We all know how it ended with Hightower returning back to New England on a 4 year 35.5 million dollar deal with 19 million fully guaranteed. Allegedly, according to Breer, during those free agent visits Hightower made to other teams he had failed physicals and the injury became known to one of those teams.
So essentially, the Patriots went ahead and gave this deal to Hightower knowing he had some damage to his body. Obviously, this is all coming to the surface because earlier today the world found out that Hightower would be out for the rest of the season.
I’m not here to do what everyone else is doing now that this report has come out. The popular take is to take a shit on Belichick’s decision making by giving Hightower this deal in the first place. I’ll admit giving 19 million guaranteed dollars to someone with an apparent injury and his injury history is easy to pile on. I’m also not taking this as a 100% true report because obviously there could be some holes in this. Especially how convenient the timing of it all is.
I don’t hate the deal that Hightower was given even if they did know. There was no other linebacker on the market that would’ve been able to replace Hightower even if the Pats wanted to spend. If the Patriots wanted to franchise tag Hightower just to have him for one more year I could see the argument there except wait a minute no I cannot… By franchise tagging Hightower the Patriots would have given him 14.5 million dollars guaranteed this year WITH A CAP HIT OF THAT EXACT NUMBER. That’s big time right there. By giving Hightower his current deal he carries a cap hit of 5.335 million. That’s much better. Especially since the reports coming out today have said that Hightower should be good to go for next season, so having him under contract for when he’s on the mend I still think is valuable. Hightower is the undisputed leader of the defense and that means a lot.
My take is really about the depth. Yes, the Patriots went and scooped up David Harris in the off-season but I feel like Belichick would have probably done a little more investment in the linebacking corps if this was known about Hightower’s pec. That’s why I can’t really wrap my head around this report and if it’s actually true. Belichick has ALWAYS been more about value than he has been about need, and this continues to be in the area of that exact trend.
Whether this report is true or not, we will never find out for sure. This kind of stuff can always be reported but it will never be confirmed by anyone in the Patriots facility without being actually murdered by team historian Ernie Adams with a shovel in his hand. The fact of the matter is that Hightower will be good to go next season, and I’m still glad it’s going to be in a Patriots uniform.