NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are bringing in yet another former linebacker to join their staff, as SportsTrust Advisors reported Friday that Dont'a Hightower has been hired as the Patriots' new linebackers coach. Hightower played four seasons alongside new Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo in New England. 

Hightower was selected by the Patriots with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Alabama. In nine seasons with New England, he recorded 569 combined tackles, 27 sacks, 43 tackles for loss and one interception. Hightower opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After winning three Super Bowls and being named to two Pro Bowls, Hightower announced his retirement last March.

"High and I have always had a great relationship. I was older. He was like a young pup," Mayo said last year, per the Patriots' official website. "But he was very smart. He was very athletic. I got a chance to play beside him. I got a chance to coach him. There aren't many people like Hightower in terms of just his smarts. I think that gets overlooked a lot with High. High is a very smart football player."

Hightower is regarded as one of the best linebackers in Patriots history -- a group which includes Andre Tippett, Mike Vrabel, Steven Nelson and Tedy Bruschi among others. Hightower will take over the position Mayo held for the last five seasons before his promotion to lead man. The two players that once shared the field will now share the sideline.