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Steelers hang on to CB Townsend

The Steelers fought off the New England Patriots in order to keep cornerback Deshea Townsend.

Townsend agreed Friday to a four-year deal for $8 million that could be worth an additional $400,000 a year with incentives. Though the signing bonus numbers weren't available, Townsend will make $3 million in the first year of the contract.

The Patriots started talking about Townsend in the middle of the week, but the Steelers felt it was important to re-sign him. Though they are grooming Bryant McFadden to be a starting cornerback and they think he will be a good one, they didn't want to lose the reality of Townsend, and they wanted to keep him around until McFadden was ready and beyond.

The 30-year-old has been with the Steelers eight years. He was a fourth-round pick in 1998 and has been a starter for the past 2½ seasons.

The Patriots had spots open in the secondary after the releases of cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.