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Analyst urges Jets to sign player with Super Bowl experience who is ‘missing beef’

Dont’a Hightower, a free-agent linebacker, will join the New England Patriots on August 29, 2019.


The New York Jets still have a few needs heading into training camp, and an experienced free agent could be the answer.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander was mentioned a little over a week ago by ESPN NFL insider Field Yates as a potential last offseason trade target for the Green-Whites, but he’s not the only player who could close the Jets’ defensive gap.

Michael Nania, a Jets X-Factor analyst, took a different tack, advising the team to focus on a knocker that could help secure Jarrad Davis’ expected 2021 position as the primary run defender at the LB core to secure. There’s undoubtedly a problem that needs solving, and the analyst suggested former New England Patriots opponent Dont’a Hightower as a solution.

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Hightower’s second attempt could deliver some much-needed size

The Jets had a certain type of linebacker under head coach Robert Saleh – athletes who could move laterally and cover. The majority of these players — Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Marcell Harris, and Javin White — were once safeties who switched to linebackers. Even Keanu Neal was a target last spring.

Hightower doesn’t fit this guy as well as Alexander does, with the exception of Davis. There was a reason General Manager Jоe Douglas signed the ex-Lоons bruiser as his first free-agent acquisition in 2021. Davis was believed by the Front of Office to be able to give this unit the strength it needed.

Similar results would be obtained from Hightower. Nania clarified:

A little more muscle would help the Jets at the linebacker. According to CJ, a 250-pound Mosley man, the Jets have plenty of speed as a linebacker, but all of the linebackers on the list are on the smaller side. As things stand, however, they risk being trampled on in the trenches. Dont’a Hightower, a former defense attorney for the Patriоts (and longtime hitman for the Jets), would provide the meat. At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, Hightower is one of the tallest linebackers in the NFL. Though the 32-year-old’s prime is over, he still has the size, run-stop ability and championship experience this team lacks.

Nania also pointed out that besides Mosley, the Jets only had two other linebackers who were within 10 pounds of the average linebacker weight in the NFL in 2021: Del’Shawn Phillips (230 lbs) and Quincy Williams (225 lbs).

Hightower’s coverage declined in 2021 when he conceded the 10th most yards per cover snap (1.23) among 66 qualified linebackers, the author continued. However, his running defense remained strong. His run defense score of 69.0 on Pro Football Focus earned him 17th place out of 66 qualifiers. That’s all the Jets would ask of him. Majority of the responsibility of coverage is taken by other players. Simply put, New Yоrk needs more run-stop safety on the backup unit in case the youngsters’ running game goes horribly wrong.

In 2017, the Jets attempted to sign the trusted former Patriоts captain, but were unsuccessful. After that failed attempt, he won three Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriоts. It could be a while before this short-term signing materializes as Saleh and Douglas love to sign players with Championship experience.

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