Raiders 2022 free agency: 3 depth signings that still make sense
Dont’a Hightower, Linebacker
Playing with both defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and head coach Josh McDaniels, the 10-year Patriot, Dont’a Hightower, is next.
Las Vegas brought in three additional linebackers this off-season, bringing the current linebacker total to five. In a scheme where Nate Hobbs presumably plays a good percentage of snaps, in addition to Graham’s desire to keep adding defensive back talent, this is likely a fine number. Still, if you can get a versatile veteran who brings leadership for cheap, you bring them in.
Over the years, Hightower has played every 4-3 linebacker position there is, consistently being penciled in as a starter in Bill Belichick’s defense. Although his official position might’ve changed over the years, there’s one thing that’s been a constant: His success.
Throughout his nine seasons, not including ’20 where Hightower elected to opt out, the Patriots’ linebacker has stuffed the stat sheet. Recording 18 pass breakups, 27 sacks, and 43 tackles behind the line, year-after-year Hightower has proved he can do a little of everything.
If you’re Patrick Graham, you love to hear this. However, there’s no need for Patrick Graham to hear it because he’s experienced it firsthand. Through the first four years of Hightower’s career, Graham was coaching on the same sideline. In the ’14 and ’15 seasons, the now-Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive coordinator was the position coach of Hightower.
Although Las Vegas likely doesn’t “need” Hightower, the truth is, the Raiders are experimenting with outside players on one-year deals. On paper, the currently rostered linebackers appear to be great fits, but everything is still uncertain. Hightower, on the hand, is a guarantee.