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Bill Belichick: Dont'a Hightower has had a good year

Ryan Hannable
December 26, 2018 - 1:48 pm

FOXBORO -- After tearing his pec last October and missing the majority of the season, Dont'a Hightower has been on the field for all but one game this year.

In 14 games, Hightower has 46 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception. His 46 tackles are ninth on the team, but Bill Belichick had a ton of praise for the linebacker when speaking Wednesday.

"He’s had a good year," he said. "He’s had a good spring, a good training camp. He missed the first Buffalo game, but he’s missed very few snaps all year in practice and in games. He plays in different packages and we haven’t put him out there for every snap, but he’s held up well and played well. I think he’s gotten in on a lot of plays in the running game, in the passing game, rushing the passer, some coverage plays, pursuit plays, things like that. So, yeah, he’s done a solid job for us."

Looking ahead, the Patriots may have a tough decision coming with Hightower.

In 2019, he has a cap hit of $10.4 million and the Patriots have an out after this year with $5 million in dead cap. Having a season like this and getting a year older, the Patriots may need to ask themselves is that worth more than $10 million?

Obviously, his leadership presence is very valuable to the defense, but if he's ninth in tackles that may not be worth such a big salary. The Patriots could potentially ask him to take a pay cut, or just flat out release him.

The team does have Ja'Whaun Bentley and Christian Sam, both rookies who have spent this year on injured reserve, on the back burner. Bentley was especially impressive in the preseason and at start of the year, which have many believing he could be the Patriots' linebacker of the future.

While Belichick praised Hightower Wednesday, it will be an interesting offseason when it comes to the veteran linebacker.

Related: Cordarrelle Patterson present at Patriots practice after leaving Sunday's game