One of the more quiet headlines of the Patriots off season so far, has been the injury situation of Dont’a Hightower. After playing in Super Bowl XLIX with a torn labrum, Hightower was forced to get surgery. It was reported that this surgery will keep him out 6-7 months, which means he will most likely miss training camp.
This leaves the Patriots in a tough situation. The team already had significant depth issues at linebacker, and now it seems that their best linebacker will begin the season from the sideline. Behind Hightower the Patriots have Jamie Collins, who is extremely talented but isn’t a beefy linebacker that can be a run-stopper like Hightower. After Collins, the linebacker situation on the Patriots is tricky.
The Jerod Mayo fiasco seems to be an interesting one to say the least. He has a 10.6 million dollar cap hit for next season, and the team needs to get that number down. First, they must wait until Mayo is healthy to give him a physical in order to restructure his deal.
The fact that the team has brought in free agent linebacker Rolando McClain makes you wonder what the situation with Mayo is. That would give you four elite level linebackers when all are healthy. That is great and all, however in today’s NFL it probably isn’t cost effective because for the most part you have two of them on the field at the same time.
McClain left Foxboro without a deal but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said it was a, “positive” trip. McClain would bring speed and physicality to the defense, and would pair nicely with Hightower and Collins. McClain played along side Hightower on the 2010 National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide team.
The only guarantees right now for the Patriots at linebacker for 2015 seem to be Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Behind them the rest of the line backing core is scarce. It includes the likes of Darius Fleming, Jonathan Freeny, and Chris White.
All should make their only impacts on special teams. The lack of depth and injury situation of Dont’a Hightower stresses the need for the Patriots to either hold onto Jerod Mayo, or to sign a free agent like Rolando McClain.