Cowboys Urged to Sign Patriots’ Ex-Pro Bowler in Free Agency

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walks onto the field before an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys are just days away from their season opener, but there are still many names in free agency that could elevate the team.

Owner Jerry Jones and his front office staff have made moves to improve the team late in the offseason, with the most notable names being linebacker Anthony Barr and offensive tackle Jason Peters joining the Cowboys.

However, both areas that Barr and Peters are joining could still use more help, especially at linebacker. A trade for a decent LB wouldn’t be great value at the beginning of the season, but fortunately, Dallas has an array of options in free agency.

In terms of big names, former New England Patriots star Dont’a Hightower. Hightower is without a team as the weekend of Week 1 approaches, playing all nine of his NFL seasons with the Patriots.

Retirement is a possibility for the 31-year-old but seems unlikely this close to the season. Hightower has been earning high wages for the past half-decade, but a cheap contract with Dallas would make sense for the team and get Hightower on a competitive team for the 2022 season.

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Hightower Builds a Career with Patriots

Coming out of Alabama, Hightower was one of the Crimson Tide’s most prominent players. In his final yer in Tuscaloosa, the linebacker racked up 11 tackles for loss and four sacks, with an interception to boot according to Sports Reference.

After joining the Patriots in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, he was an immediate starter in New England. Hightower made an impact right away with four sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, per PFR.

From that point, Hightower’s career was a model of consistency. The 32-year-old linebacker didn’t earn a Pro Bowl nod until his fifth season in the league and earned his second Pro Bowl honor in 2019.

353 solo tackles and 27 sacks over nine seasons later, Hightower has played through two contracts with New England, and was paid well while doing so. There’s no question that the linebacker knows how to get it done at the NFL level, but a place on the Cowboys’ roster is all dependent on the price.

Could Cowboys Meet Linebacker on Contract Terms?

Spotrac shows that Hightower’s last NFL contract was a sizable one: ahead of the 2017 season, the Patriots signed the linebacker to a four-year, $35.5 million deal. In his final season with New England, Hightower counted for a $12.4 million cap hit.

For an aging linebacker, that’s a high price. Furter, Dallas wouldn’t bring Hightower into start. With Barr joining Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox, Hightower or any linebacker addition would likely be as a specialist.

Having Hightower in to handle an opponent’s run game would be nice, but not if he’s going to cost a premium. Barr joined the team on a $2 million deal, and Hightower would have to agree to a deal somewhere close to that(and preferably less from Dallas’ perspective.)

Additional veteran experience and a legitimate defender would go a long way. Parsons can lineup wherever he’s needed, and there’s a contingency plan for the injury-prone Vander Esch or if Barr got injured.

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