Dont'a Hightower could find himself somewhere unfamiliar during the 2017 NFL season. The linebacker was a key member of the New England Patriots last season, propelling the defense to Super Bowl territory. He has plenty of suitors in free agency, though, and the riches outside of New England may force him to leave the team in the next week.

Free agency suitors

The New York Jets are one team looking to snag Hightower. Seeing the linebacker move from the Patriots to a divisional rival may be hurtful to his New England fans, but it certainly is not unprecedented.

The Jets hosted a visit over the weekend and may actually keep the linebacker in town for an extra day, depending on the impending storms in the northeast of the United States.

The Tennessee Titans are also a candidate to sign the linebacker. The contender that has Patriots fans most concerned, however, is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They didn't appear to be pursuing Hightower until they lost linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. They aren't usually big spenders in free agency, but they have the cap room to potentially sign him. If they do, that would be a devastating steal by last year's AFC Championship Game losers.

Team captain

Last year, Hightower served as a team captain for the New England Patriots, who remain the favorite to re-sign the linebacker.

He has spent his entire career with the team since being drafted out of Alabama in the first round in 2012. In 2016, he made his first ever Pro Bowl, recording 65 tackles and 2.5 sacks while stepping into the void left by Jerod Mayo's retirement.

Hightower is one of the last big free agents remaining on the market. Teams are clearly willing to go above and beyond for him - the Jets pretty much threw him a birthday party.

The Patriots can give him something other teams can't, though - consistent trips to the Super Bowl. For that reason, he may be wisest to stick with what he knows and re-up with New England for the indefinite future of his career.