NEW YORK — Dont’a Hightower visited an AFC East rival – and left without a deal.

The New York Jets announced Monday that they met with the free agent linebacker, one of the most-coveted players available this offseason.

Hightower, who has helped the New England Patriots win two Super Bowls in his five NFL seasons, met with the Jets on Sunday and Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not disclose details of the visit.

CBS Sports first reported Hightower’s meeting with the Jets on Sunday night. ESPN reported on Monday that Hightower was next scheduled to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL Network also reported that Hightower has already met with Tennessee.

The Jets, interested in signing the big free-agent prize away from their AFC East rival, apparently tried to pull out all the stops during their meeting. ESPN reported that Hightower, who turned 27 on Sunday, was taken out for dinner by the team and given birthday cupcakes to help celebrate. “Happy Birthday Dont’a Hightower” was shown on the screens inside the Jets’ facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, and the team sent Hightower’s mother some Jets merchandise.

It wasn’t enough to get a deal done on the spot.

New England is also interested in bringing back Hightower, who has 372 tackles and 17 sacks since being a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2012. Hightower forced a fumble when he sacked Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, helping swing the momentum New England’s way in its comeback 34-28 overtime win last month.

BRONCOS: DeMarcus Ware won’t be returning to the Dallas Cowboys or the Denver Broncos as expected. The 12-year NFL veteran is instead retiring from the NFL.

Ware announced his decision Monday on Twitter.

Next to a split image of the Cowboys and Broncos, Ware wrote, “After a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve decided to accept the unknown and retire from my NFL career. Tempting opportunities still present themselves for me to play and I feel better than I have in years. However, long-term health of quality of life outweigh the spark and passion to play that I once had.”

LIONS: Detroit agreed to a deal with guard T.J. Lang, another significant move to bolster their offensive line in a busy offseason.

EAGLES: Philadelphia agreed to terms on a two-year contract with quarterback Nick Foles.

The 28-year-old Foles returns to the team that drafted him and where he had his most success. He went to the Pro Bowl after having one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history in 2013.

Foles will be Carson Wentz’s backup. Chase Daniel is expected to be traded or released.

Foles was 14-4 as a starter for the Eagles in 2013-14. He was traded to St. Louis in 2014 and went 4-7 in 11 starts. He won his only start for Kansas City while serving as a backup to Alex Smith last year.

PANTHERS: Carolina re-signed offensive lineman Chris Scott to a one-year contract.

SEAHAWKS: A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that free agent running back Adrian Peterson has visited with Seattle.