Baskin: New England Patriots. Hightower should stick with the Super Bowl champions. I completely understand a desire to test the market and cash in— as the Patriots would likely require him to sign a discounted deal to stay in New England— but Hightower just fits the Patriots defensive scheme perfectly. He’s played there his whole career, has won two titles, and has a small window in New England before Tom Brady declines/retires (if that ever happens) to win at least one more.
Burke: New England Patriots. While the Patriots opted not to use the franchise tag on Hightower, they should keep the door open on re-signing him at the right cost. He is too valuable on that defense and was perhaps the main reason they still thrived after dealing away Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Eventually, even the league’s top franchise has to feel some effect of losing all these guys. Hightower is arguably the best of that trio.
Jones: New England Patriots. The Patriots let Jones go. They let Collins go. But they can’t let a guy whose two signature plays have come during Super Bowls go. New England not tagging Hightower was slightly surprising, but Belichick should be able to work out a deal with the defensive signal-caller before free agency opens.
Single: Indianapolis Colts. If the Patriots want him back, it’s hard to see anyone luring Hightower away from New England. However, if Indianapolis could gather up enough cash to get Hightower’s attention, he’d become the all-purpose centerpiece of a defense that’s been trying to address its soft underbelly for years.