After losing a couple of linebackers in free agency, the Steelers found themselves in need. Finding bodies to fill the roster spots will be easy. But it would be better to find talent that can improve the team. You never know who you can sign if you don’t try so the Steelers front office decided to swing for the fences. They went after New England Patriots linebacker D’onta Hightower.
Hightower spent the better part of a day visiting with the team. He was with the team long enough that it was a little surprising that he didn’t sign. But one Steelers beat reporter doesn’t think he ever intended to.
Ed Bouchette, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believes Hightower’s ten-hour visit with the Steelers was all about gaining some leverage on the Patriots:
“Usually when a player is a premium free agent, and he stays that long, he signs,” Bouchette wrote. “I think Hightower used the Steelers, but that’s all part of the process, even if you know it. You take your best shot.”
It must have helped. Not long after, Hightower ended up signing a four-year, $35.5 million contract with the Patriots.
Rumors were floating around the internet that Hightower was just using the Steelers while he was still in town. To limit how much Hightower could use them, the Steelers told him the offer—whatever it was—was off the table if he left the building.
Well—he did. So, we can assume the team did just that and pulled it. Now would they have put it back on the table if Hightower’s agent gave them a call? Probably, but we’ll never know for sure.
In the meantime, it is back to the drawing board and the ever shallow free agent pool for some depth at linebacker.