Steelers meet with Hightower, lose out on House

March 14, 2017
Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones runs with an interception past Kansas City Chiefs center Mitch Morse in the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh Oct. 2, 2016.Jones signed as a free agent with Arizona Tuesday. - Associated Press

PITTSBURGH – Cornerback Davon House won’t be making a home in Pittsburgh.

House, a free agent, visited with the Steelers Tuesday before it was announced he had signed a one-year deal to re-join the Green Bay Packers.

“Pittsburgh is a great organization! Loved it hear (sic), but had a chance to go back home,” House tweeted Tueday after agreeing to the deal with the Packers for a reported $3.5 million.

House, 27, was originially drafted by Green Bay in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and had spent the past two seasons in Jacksonville.

House wasn’t the only visitor to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, as veteran inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower also spent the day with the Steelers.

Hightower, who has spent his previous five seasons in New England, travelled to Pittsburgh after spending the weekend meeting with the Jets. New England also is considered to have a strong chance to re-sign the 2012 first-round draft pick.

He spent about seven hours with the coaching staff and front office before leaving around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Steelers are interested in Hightower as a possible replacement for linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who signed with Miami last week to a two-year, $12-million deal that included $11 million in guaranteed money.

Pittsburgh has Vince Williams waiting in the wings to replace Timmons, but is exploring the possibility of bringing Hightower in to play next to emerging star Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker.

One linebacker who won’t be back with the Steelers is former first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones.

Jones, Pittsburgh’s top selection in the 2013 draft, was signed by the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Jones opened last season as a starter for the Steelers before giving way to veteran James Harrison at midseason. He finished with 49 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and an interception in 2016.

Jones led the NCAA in sacks his final season at Georgia with 14.5 but that ability to get to the quarterback never translated to the NFL. Jones had six sacks in 50 career games with the Steelers.

He had, however, improved overall and the Steelers had some interest in bringing him back as a reserve in 2017.

The Steelers might have missed on Jones with their first pick in the 2013 draft, but they did hit on second-rounder Le’Veon Bell. whom the team placed the franchise tag on two weeks ago.

However, Jones is the second member of that Pittsburgh draft class to leave in free agency in the past week. Third-round selection Markus Wheaton, a wide receiver, signed a two-year deal worth $11 million with Chicago late last week.

The Steelers did re-sign fourth-round selection, quarterback Landry Jones, last week, but only Bell, Jones and Williams, a sixth-round pick that year, remain on the team’s roster from that draft.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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