The Detroit Lions are in need of defensive playmakers at every level. Detroit has added some defensive linemen, a cornerback and a replacement-level linebacker in free agency, but they’ve only gotten worse at linebacker, especially after the team surprisingly released DeAndre Levy last Thursday.
One popular name that many Lions fans hoped to see replace Levy was Patriots free agent linebacker Dont’a Hightower. That option is now off the table as Hightower is returning to New England.
Back home to New England. Congrats, @zeus30hightower! #boomtower pic.twitter.com/GVqzqKkeq7— SportsTrust Advisors (@_SportsTrust) March 15, 2017
Hightower is pulling in nearly $11 million a year over four seasons:
The #Patriots and star LB @zeus30hightower reach a deal for 4 years, $43.5M, $19M guaranteed, per @_sportstrust.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2017
At this point in free agency, that was likely out of Detroit’s price range, considering they only have reportedly $8.6 million in cap space.
What’s interesting, however, is that the New York Jets were also courting Hightower and even reportedly offered him more:
Told that the #Jets have offered more than $12M per season for #Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower as he gets closer to decision.— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) March 15, 2017
If that’s true, the Lions would have had to shell out an insane amount of money to even be considered by Hightower.
With Levy gone and only Tahir Whitehead and Paul Worrilow with any starting linebacker experience on the roster, Detroit has an enormous vacancy at the linebacker position. It now appears the Lions may go into the NFL Draft with that being their biggest priority. A player like Haason Reddick becomes an attractive option with the 21st overall pick, though cheap options like Zach Brown and Kevin Minter remain available in free agency.