The New York Jets need to sign linebacker Dont’a Hightower this offseason, and they may have to break the bank to do so.
Last season, the secondary was bad, and that led to questions about the pass rush. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower would add a significant piece to the New York Jets pass rush because he’s a three-down linebacker.
Another thing signing Hightower would do would give them a legitimate player to replace David Harris. Harris is counting $6.5M against the salary cap, and he’s on the downside of his career.
Cutting Harris would clear the entire $6.5M. So even though ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote this in his negatives for signing Hightower, in theory, it wouldn’t cost the Jets as much:
The contract probably won’t be as lucrative as he imagined at the start of free agency, but Hightower still will land an impressive deal. It figures to be in an annual range of $10 million to $12 million, with at least $20 million guaranteed.
One of Cimini‘s positive outweighs that negative:
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At 27, Hightower is young enough to be part of the Jets’ rebuilding effort. He would galvanize the team’s young linebacker corps and complement the big boys up front.
Adding Hightower could also change the defensive strategy of the Jets. Having a three-down inside linebacker gives them more flexibility.
Mauldin is very athletic, and his body type is more suited to play inside. Lee was injured last season, and banging up against guards every Sunday likely played a factor.
The Jets could then use Mauldin’s athleticism inside with Hightower and have the pass rush tandem of Jordan Jenkins and Lee. Having a duo of pass rushers in better than one. In the end, the Jets cannot whiff on Hightower. They need to bring him to One Jet Drive as soon as possible.