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Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots strike extension

The New England Patriots last signed Rob Ninkovich to a contract extension in 2009, when he was a promising special-teams player who often subbed in for Adalius Thomas. That deal worked out rather nicely for the Patriots.

On Sunday, they did it all over again. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Ninkovich reached a three-year extension worth more than $15 million, per a source informed of the deal. Of the $15 million, $8.5 million is guaranteed, which makes the defensive end the third highest-paid Patriots defender.

"After overcoming adversity early in his career, Rob has become a face on their defense and has earned every dollar of this deal," Craig Domann, Ninkovich's agent, told Rapoport.

Ninkovich has 18.5 sacks over the last three years, and he forced five fumbles last season. After bouncing around the league with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins early in his career, Ninkovich has found a home as a versatile piece of Bill Belichick's defense. He'll start in his 42nd straight game Sunday, when the Patriots face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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