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Steelers' free-agent visits to include Pro Bowl LB Hightower

Joe Rutter
| Monday, March 13, 2017, 3:03 p.m.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is sacked by Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51 on Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston. Hightower, a free agent, is scheduled to visit the Steelers this week.
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Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is sacked by Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 51 on Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston. Hightower, a free agent, is scheduled to visit the Steelers this week.

One of the top remaining NFL free agents is expected to meet with the Steelers this week, and the team also is looking at several other more affordable players.

Pro Bowl linebacker Dont'a Hightower, a starter for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, would be a replacement for inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who accepted a two-year, $12 million deal with Miami on Friday.

But the 27-year-old Hightower is thought to be out of the Steelers' price range.

He reportedly turned down a contract extension with New England before the season that would have paid him $10 million per season. He already has visited the New York Jets, and the Patriots have been trying to re-sign him.

On Monday, the Steelers met with outside linebacker Jay Elliott, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, and wide receiver Justin Hunter, a former Tennessee Titans second-round draft pick, at UPMC Rooney Sports Performance Complex. Elliott re-signed with the Packers later in the day.

The team will visit with former Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Davon House on Tuesday.

House, 27, could address the team's depth at cornerback. Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell are the starters, but Cockrell is a restricted free agent, and the Steelers offered him only a fourth-round tender at $1.797 million.

Top backup William Gay is 32, lost his starting job last year and was ineffective in the AFC championship game loss at New England.

House was drafted by the Packers in the fourth round in 2011. After four years in Green Bay, he signed a four-year, $24.5 million contract with Jacksonville in 2015.

The Jaguars released House, who was due to make base salaries of $6 million the next two seasons. House only started four games last year for Jacksonville but has missed only three games in the past four seasons.

Hunter, 25, was the 34th player taken overall in 2013 by the Titans out of the University of Tennessee. After spending three seasons with the Titans, Hunter played one game with Miami and 11 with Buffalo last year.

With the Bills, Hunter had 10 catches for 189 yards and four touchdowns. He has 78 career receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The only free-agent signings for the Steelers have been internal options: backup quarterback Landry Jones and blocking tight end David Johnson.

Remaining Steelers players on the unrestricted free-agent market are Jones, defensive end Ricardo Mathews, safety Shamarko Thomas, offensive lineman Cody Wallace and running back DeAngelo Williams. Jones was scheduled to meet with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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