Former Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower is set to return to the New England Patriots in 2021. Hightower was one of eight players for the Patriots to sit out the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Patriots used a first-round draft pick on the former All-American linebacker in 2012. Hightower is a three-time Super Bowl champion, two-time Pro Bowler and part of the New England Patriots 2010s All-Decade Team.

The return of Hightower will give the Patriots a major boost to their linebacker unit. Without Hightower in 2020, the Patriots finished 15th in yards allowed, 7th in points per game and 26th in run defense. A major drop off from finishing 1st in yards allowed per game and points per game in 2019.

Hightower earned his second Pro Bowl berth in 2019, finishing the season with 71 tackles, 5.5 sacks and four passes defended.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old enters the final year of his four-year, $35.5 million dollar contract. Hightower is set to make a base salary of $8 million dollars and carry a $12.4 million salary cap hit for the 2021 season.

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