When it came to the coaching staff, the Las Vegas Raiders weren’t afraid to bring over former New England Patriots to join the team. That thought process carried over to free agency. The team brought in a lot of new players this offseason, six of which were former Patriots. Defensive end Chandler Jones, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Jakob Johnson, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, tight end Jacob Hollister and safety Duron Harmon all previously played in New England.
If the Raiders are looking to add more former Patriots, there are still a number of good ones in free agency. Though the team just struck a deal with veteran linebacker Kenny Young, they could look to further bolster their linebacker group. Dont’a Hightower was a key part of the Patriots’ dynasty as he’s a two-time Pro Bowler and won three Super Bowl rings with the team. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders should pursue the veteran linebacker:
Las Vegas should eye another former Patriot in linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The 32-year-old is a versatile defender who can fill a variety of roles in coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019 and finished last season with 64 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defended and one tackle for loss after opting out of the 2020 season.
Adding Hightower could help bolster a run defense that ranked 19th in yards allowed last season, and Las Vegas didn’t add a linebacker in the draft.
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Hightower’s Future Is Still Unclear
Hightower is 32-years-old and passed his prime. If the Raiders were to sign him, he would likely be a depth option similar to how they used K.J. Wright last season. However, Hightower might not be looking to make any big moves this offseason and might not even continue his career.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the veteran linebacker is mulling his options right now and is in no rush to figure things out.
The Raiders aren’t a team that needs a linebacker like Hightower right now. He’s already familiar with the type of defense that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham runs so it wouldn’t be a steep learning curve for him. If he decides not to retire or return to the Patriots, the Raiders are one of the most logical landing spots for him.
Different Ex-Patriots LB Joins Chargers
Another linebacker who would’ve made sense for the Raiders was Kyle Van Noy. He’s a former Patriot who is actually from Reno, Nevada, so coming to Las Vegas would’ve been a bit of a homecoming. However, he just recently decided to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Van Noy is in the same boat as Hightower as he’s 31-years-old and likely passed his prime. He could’ve been an option for the Raiders down the road had he remained in free agency but the Chargers swooped him up. The AFC West continues to get more competitive so it makes sense why the Chargers and Raiders remain active. If Hightower isn’t available, it’s possible Las Vegas still tries to add another linebacker in free agency as they didn’t address the position in the draft.