The New England Patriots made news on Wednesday after it was announced that they had come to terms with linebacker Dont\'a Hightower on four-year deal that should total out at around $7.7 million.
The early reports indicate that the Patriots did not guarantee any of the fourth and final year of the deal.
Hightower, the 25th overall pick in the draft, was of course picked right after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected David DeCastro. The signing of Hightower, without giving him any guaranteed money in the fourth year of the deal, essentially boxes DeCastro in on the backside as far as any portion of the fourth year being guaranteed.
As I posted last week, the reason that DeCastro has not yet been signed is likely because his agent, along with the agent of Detroit Lions tackle Riley Reiff, are both waiting to see how much of the fourth year winds up being guaranteed for Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden and his rep are holding tight on their demands to have the full four years guaranteed, while the Browns are likely trying to work out some sort of compromise like they gave Phil Taylor last year, which was a combination of both guarantee and roster bonus in the fourth and final year.
The agents of both Reiff and DeCastro do not want to miss an opportunity at the full four years guaranteed, or at least a portion of the fourth year guaranteed, and thus the reason both of their clients remain unsigned.
DeCastro being boxed in on the backside could help speed things up a little now on getting DeCastro signed, as the Steelers are certainly pushing hard to only guarantee the first three years. Had Hightower received any of his fourth year guaranteed, DeCastro and his agent would have a reason to fight longer. Now they really don\'t.
The total amount of the deal for DeCastro has been set in stone for a while now thanks to the slotting system. The only haggling this entire time has been over the amount guaranteed. With one week left until the Steelers report to training camp, I fully expect DeCastro will be signed by then.