FOXBOROUGH — The New England Patriots have ensured that neither of their 2012 first-round picks will be leaving the fold until at least 2016.
The Patriots have exercised the fifth-year option for both linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones. The Jones news was reported by Will Brinson of CBS Sports on Thursday; the Hightower news was reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Wednesday.
As part of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, all first-round draft picks are automatically on a four-year contract, and they also have a fifth-year team option in their contracts that allows the team to keep them for an extra year at a fixed rate. The Patriots selected Jones 21st overall in the 2012 NFL draft, trading up from No. 27 to make the pick.
Jones’ option is worth $7.799 million, according to Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald; Hightower will receive $7.8 million.
Jones has played in 40 games in his three-year career with 38 starts, notching 103 tackles, 23.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and seven passes defensed. Hightower has played 42 games, starting 39, and has tallied 169 tackles, 11 sacks, one forced fumble, and nine passes defensed.