Ahmad Brooks always wanted to stay in the Bay Area, a place that has become a new home after all those painful memories of getting cut by Cincinnati four years ago.
The San Francisco 49ers made it hard for him to leave, and now the two are tied together long term.
Brooks signed a six-year, $44.5 million contract extension with San Francisco on Tuesday that will take him through the 2017 season and keep one of the NFL's best linebacker units intact. The deal is worth $17.5 million guaranteed, said his agent, Greg Williams.
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora first reported the sides were near a long-term deal early Tuesday.
"Something was telling me just to sign here. I feel like this is where I should be," said Brooks, who could have opted for free agency. "These are the people who gave me a chance to get this contract."
Brooks, 27, started every game last season for the first time in his six-year NFL career and finished with 50 tackles, 7.0 sacks and one forced fumble.
Along with All-Pro inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and sensational rookie Aldon Smith at the other outside spot, Brooks helped the 49ers win the NFC West behind one of the league's best defenses. San Francisco allowed only 14.3 points per game, second only to Pittsburgh at 14.2.
"I think he felt a part of the team. He felt like it was home," Williams said. "I think it was kind of a feeling all year long that he wanted to stay there. We kept options open on whether he would go to free agency or not. He believes that this is the opportunity to be on a good team for a long time and he wants to be a part of it."
Brooks is one of several key free agents on the defensive side of the ball for the 49ers. It's likely his signing will allow the team to use the franchise tag on a defensive back, such as Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report