Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater reportedly plan to play next season

Several veteran Patriots players plan to remain in the NFL next season.

Dont'a Hightower
New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower removes his helmet during an NFL football practice. AP Photo/Steven Senne

Several veteran Patriots players plan to be in the NFL next season, according to the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi — Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater, Devin McCourty, and James White.

On a chaotic day that included a reported blockbuster Russell Wilson trade to the Broncos as well as Aaron Rodgers’ monstrous re-up with the Packers, Giardi dropped the news that the four veteran free-agents plan to play next season.

Hightower, 31, played 15 games for the Patriots as a linebacker this past season, recording 64 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks as well as four QB hits. NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran speculated that Hightower and the Patriots might be due for a split this offseason.


“A one or two-year deal with an APY of $6M would be most likely for a player with Hightower’s resume but that would be a lot to pay for a player who may only be off the field on third down,” Curran wrote on Sunday. “The Patriots could still use the leadership and smarts of Hightower but his performance is declining.”

Meanwhile Slater, who is 36, was named to the Pro Bowl this season. After the Patriots lost in the Wild Card game to the Bills, he said he only wants to return to the Patriots — the organization with whom he has played since he entered the league in 2008.

“Obviously there’s got to be a desire from the organization to want me back here,” Slater said. “I don’t see myself playing anywhere else. So we’ll be praying about that, like we have been the last couple years. If we feel the Lord is telling us to do something, we want to be obedient in that way.”

Technically, McCourty’s contract won’t void until March 16, at which point he and the Patriots could work on a new deal. McCourty will be 35 when the season starts. He recorded 60 tackles and three interceptions last year. In a funny ad earlier this year, McCourty made it clear he doesn’t plan to retire. He had a “minor procedure” on his right thumb this offseason.


James White, 30, is reportedly doing “great” as he recovers from a right hip subluxation in Week 3. Per the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, he is open to playing with the Patriots or elsewhere. White picked up 38 yards and a touchdown in 10 attempts prior to his injury.


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