Jets lean on cupcakes in Dont'a Hightower courtship

The Jets, you might have noticed, are lagging behind the Patriots on several key fronts right now. Swiping away one of New England's top talents is -- hypothetically, anyway -- a strong strategy in the quest to alter that frustrating, unrelenting dynamic.

And so it was that Jets management welcomed free-agent linebacker Dont'a Hightower into their building for an official visit on Sunday. In great need of a pass-rushing linebacker -- something the Jets have been missing since John Abraham skipped town, like, 12 years ago -- Gang Green broke out all the stops to impress Hightower on his 27th birthday.

Here's the lowdown, from ESPN's Adam Schefter:

"They sent his mother Jets merchandise, the brought him out to dinner last night and had cupcakes given to him on his birthday," Schefter said on NFL Insiders. "They had 'Happy Birthday Dont'a Hightower' on all the screens inside the Jets training facility."

This would be a cute story for Hightower to relay during an introductory press conference at One Jets Drive. But when Hightower leaves New Jersey without signing a deal, and when there's industry chatter that Hightower is simply using the Jets and other suitors for leverage before re-upping with New England, New York's efforts can come across as a bit, well, desperate.

Perhaps Hightower ends up signing with the Jets. Perhaps these courting flourishes will be cited difference-makers before Dont'a smiles for a round of photographs with Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles.

But here's something for the Jets to take from this if things don't work out: Why sign the contract when you get the cupcakes for free?

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