The New England Patriots locked up a critical cog in their defensive front seven on Sunday, as the team agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension with defensive end Rob Ninkovich that includes $8.5 million in bonuses and guaranteed money, as first reported by colleague Mike Reiss.
Ninkovich, who was out of work in early August 2009 when the Patriots signed him as a low-profile free agent, spoke to the “Mut & Merloni” program on WEEI sports radio in Boston on Monday morning and expressed his gratitude for the new deal.
"I'm happy to be here, I'm happy to stick around,” he said. “The Kraft family and my family worked it out to where it works well for both sides and I'm happy to be here for the next three, four -- four years now."
In extending Ninkovich’s deal, the Patriots re-upped their top pass-rusher from last season and now have both he and Chandler Jones under contract through 2016.
The veteran Ninkovich said that the discussions on the new deal dated back to training camp.
"In training camp we were talking, I knew that I wanted to be here, this is the place I was given an opportunity and I really respected that because if it wasn't for the opportunity that was given here, I don't know where I would be right now,” he said.
Originally a 2006 fifth-round draft pick of the Saints, Ninkovich bounced around during his first three NFL seasons, spending time with the Dolphins before a second tenure in New Orleans. But it was in New England where he thrived and found his greatest success.
Now, he has a chance to continue to help the franchise move forward in its winning ways.
“Given that, I really wanted to stick around and win games and be on a winning team,” Ninkovich said. “That goes a long way as well. You can go search for money and all that stuff, but if you’re losing every week, you’d be pretty miserable. I want to be here, I want to win and I want to help the team and just continue to be a good football player and be reliable.”