Ex-Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower Linked to Potential Return With Division Leader

New England Patriots

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As the 2022 NFL regular season draws to a close, teams are looking for an extra edge as they make a push for the playoffs. A former New England Patriots start could be just what one AFC team needs.

The Tennessee Titans are currently 7-6 and are at the top of the AFC South but have struggled as of late. The Titans lost their last three games including a loss to their in-division rival Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14.

Tennessee’s defense allowed 36 points to Jacksonville. Its defense has also struggled with injuries with starting linebacker David Long Jr. recently being placed on injured reserve. With the trajectory that the Titans are on, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes that Tennessee should try and sign Patriots legend Dont’a Hightower.

“If Hightower can be convinced to play outside of New England, the Tennessee Titans would be a logical destination,” Knox said. “The Titans are fading fast, and after losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the proverbial door in the division is still open. Adding a savvy veteran like Hightower for the final month could help close it.”

Would Dont’a Hightower Return to the Patriots?

Tennessee isn’t the only team that could use Hightower. New England itself could use Hightower’s services even though they haven’t brought him back.

Knox also detailed why a return to the Patriots makes a lot of sense.

“Hightower opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns, but he returned to play in 2021 and played well,” Knox said. “Last season with New England, Hightower started 15 games and finished with 65 tackles, 39 solo stops and 1.5 sacks. A return to New England would make sense for several reasons, most notably that he’s played his entire career with the Patriots.

”At 6-6, New England is struggling to stay in playoff contention and could use all the help it can get down the stretch,” Knox added.

While he hasn’t been signed yet, New England has left the door open for Hightower to return. Back in September, it was reported that Hightower’s locker remained and that no player would wear his number (54).

Could Any Other Former Patriots Get Signed?

Hightower isn’t the only former member of New England’s defense that could find a new home. Knox believes that Malcolm Brown can bolster the Los Angeles Chargers’ run defense.

“Defensive tackle Malcom Brown isn’t going to command media attention like Beckham can. What the 28-year-old can do, though, is bolster a run defense in the trenches,” Knox said.

“The Los Angeles Chargers would be a logical landing spot for Brown. L.A. came into Week 14 ranked last in yards per carry allowed (5.4) and with several injuries along the defensive line,” Knox added. “Otito Ogbonnia (knee) and Christian Covington (pectoral) are both out for the year. The Chargers also parted with 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery after the trade deadline. The Detroit Lions could also use help on the defensive interior. Detroit is still hanging around the NFC playoff picture but came into Week 14 allowing an average of 5.2 yards per carry.”

The rest of the NFL is taking notice of these former Patriots who helped New England win games.

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