NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Jets are trying to poach a star from their biggest rival.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, free agent outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower spent Sunday night in Florham Park, New Jersey, as his meeting with the Jets was expected to last into Monday.
While his stats don’t jump off the page, there are plenty of reasons why Hightower is one of the most coveted free agents on the open market.
In addition to being a disruptive force, the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder is a winner, having played a big role in a pair of the Patriots’ Super Bowl championships. He would slot in nicely next to second-year linebacker Darron Lee as the Jets continue to try to get younger and more athletic on both sides of the ball. If Hightower is brought in, it’s possible the Jets would release their longest-tenured player, 33-year-old linebacker David Harris, and save $6.5 million.
A former first-round pick out of Alabama in 2012, Hightower can play multiple positions, as he has served as both as a pass rusher and a traditional linebacker that can stop the run during his first five pro seasons.
There are some who think Hightower is using the hated Jets as leverage to get a better offer from the Patriots, a team he had earlier said he had no intentions of ever leaving. However, all indications are that general manager Mike Maccagnan is serious about landing something New York has needed for a very long time — an explosive edge rusher.
The Jets are in complete rebuilding mode, so it would help to a player with Hightower’s credentials who just turned 27 on Sunday.
Maccagnan was quiet over the first few days of free agency, a clear sign that the Jets won’t throw money at just anyone. He did fill two holes on Friday, signing left tackle Kelvin Beachum and kicker Chandler Catanzaro, and is still trying to figure out the team’s precarious quarterback situation.
The Jets reportedly remain interested in veteran Jay Cutler, and have been linked to other available signal-callers.