Among the questions surrounding this year’s free agent market is what’s going on at linebacker. Most every one of the best players at the position are still available without even reports of interest for most of them.
The answer could lie in Dont’a Hightower.
Hightower is not only the top linebacker on the market, but was arguably the top free agent to hit the market this year. Initially reports had him working on remaining with the Patriots, but no deal has come yet, so he is taking visits to see what kind of deals are out there.
Oakland is not among the reported visits for Hightower. He has already visited the Jets and Titans with Pittsburgh next on the itinerary, according to Jason La Canfora.
Steelers will bring LB Dont'a Hightower in for a visit. Has already met with Jets and Titans. Pats want him back too— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 13, 2017
Sure, the Raiders could jump in at any time if they like. They may have even given Hightower’s agent a number and left it at that. But it sounds like mostly Hightower is trying to get the Patriots to bring their number up.
While Hightower continues to flirt with teams across the league, the rest of the linebackers sit in a logjam. No team wants to make a move until they know Hightower is no longer an option. This affects even teams not in the running for Hightower as agents of other linebackers don’t want to limit their options to those teams unwilling to get into the bidding for Hightower.
The next best linebacker on the market is Zach Brown, formerly of the Bills. You can bet some of the same teams looking into Hightower, have Brown as a backup plan. Others include Kevin Minter, Perry Riley Jr, Gerald Hodges, Sean Spence, and DeAndre Levy.
Most every other position has been picked apart, and the Raiders haven’t been in on it. Getting a guy like Zach Brown to fill their glaring middle linebacker spot could be their only chance to make any significant addition this free agency period. That may have to wait until Hightower figures out where he wants to get his next big payday.