One day before Patriots rookies begin training camp Thursday (the veterans join them in a week), the team agreed to contract terms with its final remaining unsigned draft pick, linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Although there was no official announcement, Hightower confirmed the agreement, tweeting, “Guess the cats out of the bag . . . want to [thank] everyone who has helped me reach my dream.”
Hightower was the second of the Patriots’ two first-round picks, taken 25th overall, and there was a question as to why it was taking so long for his deal to get done. The team’s first pick, defensive end Chandler Jones, signed May 23, and second-round pick Tavon Wilson, a safety, was the first Patriots draftee to sign, on May 15.
ProFootballTalk.com, citing a source, reported the likely reason for the holdup: The Patriots refused to guarantee any part of the fourth year of the contract. Rather than continue to try to get a partial guarantee, Hightower decided to take New England’s offer so he could report to camp on time.
ProFootballTalk.com noted that the Steelers have no desire to guarantee any part of the fourth year of the contract of David DeCastro, the offensive lineman who was chosen one spot before Hightower.
Patriots rookies must report to Gillette Stadium by 8 a.m. Thursday.
Also, rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard of Nebraska was allowed to delay his trial in Lincoln, Neb., for assaulting an officer in April, the Associated Press reported. Dennard remains free on bond.