Hightower is scheduled to hit the Patriots salary cap with $10.9 million this year" Patriots AnalysisPatriots First ReadDonta Hightower named the Patriots most overpaid player Chase Winovich Jersey Draft , but is he really?New,72commentsHightower is scheduled to hit the Patriots salary cap with $10.9 million this yearEDTWhile Julian Edelman ultimately took home the MVP trophy after the New England Patriots victory in Super Bowl 53, seeing Donta Hightower receive it would also not have been a surprise. The veteran linebacker, who played 56 of his teams 65 defensive snaps against the Los Angeles Rams, had a dominant game after all: he finished the contest with 2.0 sacks, a quarterback hit and a hurry, all while serving as defensive on-field signal caller.Hightower played a key role in the Patriots historic defensive effort, showing once again his ability to step up when the lights are brightest and why he is as valuable a player as any in New England. And yet, the 29-year-old has been named New Englands most overpaid player in a recent article written by Bleacher Reports Kristopher Knox. The rationale behind nominating the three-time champion for the title was presented as follows:Statistics are often used to justify or criticize a players contract, and this also appears to be the case here. While the numbers may not be particularly impressive when it comes to Hightowers 2018 season one during which he played 951 of a possible 1,231 defensive snaps (77.3%) they only tell one part of the story: his role at the heart of the Patriots defense also needs to be pointed out in order to properly assess Hightowers value.As one of the most experienced players on the unit, the former-first round draft pick has been chosen to call the defensive signals on the field and ensure that his ten teammates are lined up properly. This does of course not get reflected on the stat sheet, but it is still important context needed to analyze Hightower and his value as a leader of the Patriots defense one that the Bleacher Report story presents without mentioning his playoff contributions either.When it comes to the actual deal, Hightower may in fact not actually be overpaid (no matter how this phrase is defined). His 2019 salary cap hit of $10.95 million is the eight highest among all linebackers in the NFL, and presents fair market value when looking at the players around him. One of them is the Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly ($9.96 million) Chase Winovich NFL Jersey , who might just be the leagues best linebacker but still saw his deal get restructured earlier this offseason.The four-year, $35.5 million contract that Hightower signed with the Patriots after testing free agency to assess his market value was a good deal for both parties in 2017, and it still is today given the linebackers contributions last season and how they project to look like heading into 2019. From a league-wide perspective, it is therefore difficult to label him as overpaid: Hightower is among the NFLs better linebackers and he is paid as such.Now when it comes to the Patriots themselves, one could say that he is overpaid one player on the team has to have that title for that specific arguments sake, right? But looking at it that way, Michael Bennetts $6.5 million cap number could also be mentioned; he has not yet played a game for the Patriots, after all, and it remains to be seen whether or not he is worth that big an investment. Or how about backup quarterback Brian Hoyers $3.0 million, despite him rarely seeing the field?The point is this: with the exception of rookie deals, the market dictates how player contracts look like and by extension who is or is not overpaid. In Hightowers case, there certainly is an argument to be made that he is compensated fairly when looking at the linebacker position as a whole across the league. Calling him an overpaid player is therefore a tough sell especially for a player that keeps making game-changing Super Bowl plays on a regular basis. KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Patrick Mahomes took his first snap of the preseason, dropped back and set his feet, then threw a perfect pass down the sideline to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce for a big gain.Its was almost as if last season never ended.The league MVP picked up where he left off from his record-breaking debut as the starter Chase Winovich NFL Draft , leading Kansas City to a first-quarter touchdown in a 38-17 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night.Article continues below ...Mahomes did a bit of everything on his only series with the first-team offense, too. The gunslinger was 4 for 4 for 66 yards, added a wild 10-yard scramble in which he wisely slid at the goal line to avoid a big hit, and even induced an offside penalty with his barking cadence.I felt great. To get out there, make some throws, get the guys kind of rolling, he said. Run game, pass game, I thought it was a good drive to start everything off.It came after an equally impressive drive by the Cincinnati starters.Andy Dalton converted a series of third downs while leading the Bengals on a 14-play, 75-yard TD march to open the game . And he did it without the services of injured wide receiver A.J. Green or his top two running backs, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, who were given the night off.Thats how you want to start the game, Dalton said. We feel like weve got depth on this team. Weve got talent. So for us to miss some of our guys thatll be starting for us this year, not in there, I thought we did a great job.On that drive Chase Winovich Buffalo Bills Jersey , perhaps. But first-year head coach Zac Taylor had a different assessment as a whole.You really look at a game like this, 38-17 final score, we had two turnovers on special teams, countless penalties on offense and a defensive pass interference that extended a drive that had a big stop, he said. Thats life in the NFL right now. Weve got to correct those mistakes.The most interesting thing to happen in the game came late in the first half, when Kyle Shurmur was marching the Chiefs downfield. His throw to Byron Pringle down the sideline was picked by safety Brandon Wilson, scuttling the drive and giving Cincinnati a chance with the ball.But under a rule change approved by NFL owners in March, pass interference calls can be reviewed a response to the controversial on-call in the NFC title game last season. And when officials reviewed the play Saturday night, they decided that cornerback Tony Lippett had caused interference.The penalty gave the Chiefs the ball back and they wound up kicking a field goal.In a delicious coincidence, the provision passed by a 31-1 vote of owners at the leagues annual meeting in Phoenix. The only team that voted against the rule was Cincinnati.STAT WATCHDalton was 7 of 9 for 80 yards. Bengals rookie Ryan Finley outplayed Jeff Driskel in the race for the No. 2 QB job, going 13 of 18 for 109 yards with a TD and a pick. Josh Caldwell led the Chiefs with 59 yards rushing and a TD. Each team was penalized 11 times for 206 yards total.EARLY EXITChiefs CB DMontre Wade, who has been competing for a backup job, was ejected in the third quarter for hitting a defenseless receiver near the head. The Bengals ended the drive with a field goal.ROOKIE WATCHChiefs WR Mecole Hardman caught a shuffle pass from Shurmur in the second quarter and went 17 yards for a touchdown . The second-round pick finished with two catches for 31 yards in his debut.They called it in the huddle and I was like, Oh yeah, its my chance to score right here Color Rush Chase Winovich Jersey ,' Hardman said. Got the pitch and I saw it open up, I saw the seam. I just said, Lets hit it and get into the end zone. I got in there. It felt good. Hopefully there are many more to come.EYE ON THE BALLBengals punt returner Darius Phillips recovered his own muffed punt in the second quarter, but he wasnt as fortunate in the third. The Chiefs Deon Yelder recovered his next one, and quarterback Chase Litton proceeded to hit running back Darwin Thompson with a 29-yard touchdown throw.INJURIESBengals SS Clayton Fejedelem was carted off with a right ankle injury. TE Cethan Carter left with a neck strain, RB Trayveon Williams hurt his ribs and DT Christian Ringo hurt his thumb.Chiefs TE John Lovett left early in the second half with a shoulder injury.MISSING STARSBengals DT Geno Atkins joined Mixon and Bernard in getting the night off. The Chiefs sat RB Damien Williams, who recently returned from a hamstring injury, and DE Frank Clark, who has been dealing with a sore wrist after signing a $104 million, five-year deal in the offseason.UP NEXTBengals: At Washington on Thursday night.Chiefs: At Pittsburgh next Saturday.