Patriots sign Banta-Cain to 3-year deal

The Patriots and outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain have finalized a contract today that will keep the team's top pass rusher in the fold for the next three seasons.

Banta-Cain led the Patriots with 10 sacks in 2009, reviving his career by returning to New England last season after two years in San Francisco. He had signed a one-year contract for the veteran minimum, but his new contract will be significantly richer than that as it averages $4.5 million per season and could be as rich as $6 million per season if he meets certain escalators.

Banta-Cain played in all 16 games last season. Initially projected as a sub rusher, he emerged as a contributor on early downs as well, playing in 66 percent of the defensive snaps.