The Patriots elected against using their franchise tag on Hightower ahead of free agency, but still want to return the former first-round pick.
While Hightower is widely considered the top inside linebacker on the free-agent market, he apparently didn’t receive a strong enough offer to sign with a new team on the opening day of free agency.
The 26-year-old has spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Patriots, and recorded 65 tackles with 2.5 sacks in 2016.
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