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Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots reach deal

The New England Patriots agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Dont'a Hightower on a four-year contract Wednesday, NFL Network confirmed.

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Financial terms are undisclosed, but as the No. 25 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Hightower can expect a four-year rookie contract worth around $7.7 million, with around $6.2 million in guarantees.

A 6-foot-2, 265-pound linebacker, Hightower recorded 234 tackles, including 21 for a loss, with five sacks during his 44-game career at Alabama. Hightower blew out his knee in 2009 and did not fully recover until the second half of the 2011 season.

Hightower can play multiple positions, and his versatility was part of the reason the Patriots moved up in the first round to select him. Hightower is expected to compete with Rob Ninkovich for the starting role at strong linebacker and also might be used as a pass rusher off the edge.

By signing Hightower, the Patriots have all of their picks from the 2012 NFL Draft under contract on the day before rookies are scheduled to report for training camp. The Patriots are the 15th team to finish signing their entire 2012 class.

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