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Report: Dont'a Hightower 'Still Figuring Out' If He Wants To Play Football

BOSTON (CBS) -- The NFL Draft will begin next week. The Patriots still don't know the playing status of their four-time captain in the middle of their defense.

Apparently, Dont'a Hightower doesn't even know himself.

Hightower played the final year of his contract last season, making him a free agent this offseason. But March has turned into April, and Hightower remains without a contract.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, that's because Hightower is debating whether or not he'll be playing football in 2022.

"Hightower is still figuring out what he wants to do," Howe tweeted on Tuesday. "If he wants to keep playing, he doesn't need spring ball anyway. Could take a while longer."

Hightower, who turned 32 in March, returned to the Patriots last year after sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns. He played in 15 regular-season games, recording 64 tackles but just one pass defense and 1.5 sacks. The three-time Super Bowl champion had three tackles (two solo) in the Patriots' blowout loss in the playoffs.

Hightower previously re-signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2017. There was some speculation that Hightower might not return in 2021 after his year away from football, but he said after arriving for work in Foxboro that he never considered retirement. Last month, NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported that Hightower does intend to play in 2022, but the latest report indicates that the linebacker has not yet made up his mind.

The Patriots have not added many players from outside the organization this offseason but have re-signed veteran team captains like Devin McCourty, James White, and Matthew Slater.

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