Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower Retires

On the day of the press conference for one longtime Patriot defender’s retirement, another veteran member of the unit has officially ended his career. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower announced in a Players’ Tribune article that he has retired after nine seasons played in the NFL, all with New England.

[RELATED: S Devin McCourty Retires]

The 33-year-old joined the team as a first-round pick after a decorated college career. He won a pair of national championships at Alabama, raising expectations for him at the pro level. He established himself as a full-time starter in his rookie campaign and remained a key member of the Patriots’ defense throughout his career with the team.

Hightower amassed 117 regular season games in New England, playing a versatile role at the second level of the teams’ defense. He never totaled more than six sacks or 97 tackles in a single campaign, but remained a consistent producer through his final season in 2021. He earned Pro Bowl nods in 2016 and 2019, as well as second-team All-Pro honors in the former season.

A noted playoff performer, Hightower was a member of three Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams. The highlights of his postseason career in include the tackle on Marshawn Lynch which set up the Seahawks’ now-infamous goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX and the strip-sack which helped the Patriots’ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI.. Overall, Hightower totaled 81 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in 17 playoff contests.

“Today, I’m totally at peace knowing that I gave this franchise every ounce of sweat I had left,” Hightower wrote. The Lewisburg, Tennessee native played on his rookie contract and then a four-year, $35.5MM pact after his first and only foray into free agency. New England remained open to the possibility of Hightower continuing his career with them, but he was sidelined for the 2022 campaign. He totaled just over $52MM in career earnings.

After acknowledging support from his family, teammates, fans and the Patriots organization, Hightower concluded his announcement by simply adding, “thank you. Just thank you. I wouldn’t rewrite a single chapter of this story.”

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