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Patriots Star Responds To Offseason Retirement Rumors

A closeup of a New England Patriots football helmet. The team will be without David Andrews in Week 3.

ATLANTA - AUGUST 11: A detailed view of a New England Patriots helmet prior to the NFL preseason game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons on August 11, 2006 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Dont'a Hightower opted out of the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving behind a massive hole in the New England Patriots defense. His decision also sparked conversation that he might head into retirement during the 2021 offseason.

However, Hightower is ready to put those rumors to bed, once and for all.

The two-time Pro Bowler showed up at Patriots minicamp earlier this week, ready to get to work. He also shared that he never entertained ending his playing days, joking with reporters that it seemed like someone was trying to usher him into retirement.

“All the rumors about retirement, y’all had me thinking someone was trying to kick me out,” Hightower said, via the Boston Herald.

Although Hightower doesn't sound ready to hang up his jersey for good anytime soon, he stood behind his decision to opt out of the 2020 campaign.

“If I had to do it again, if I had to go back and do it, I would absolutely do it again,” Hightower said. “It was really just for the season. I wasn’t planning or discussing anything like [retirement].”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sounded thrilled to get his veteran defender back in the building this offseason. He already complimented Hightower's ability to fit into the fold quickly.

“It’s good to have all the players that we have and yeah, it was good to see High,” Belichick said, per Pro Football Talk. “High’s worked right in very quickly. He’s obviously a smart player with a lot of experience and has a lot of leadership force on the team. But again, we’re not really in an evaluation mode here, so we’ll see how all that goes for everybody when we get to that point.”

Hightower might've take a year away from football but the Patriots will need him to come back in a major way this fall. He'll be expected to lead a defense in New England capable of being one of the best in the league.