Rob NinkovichThe Patriots still have over $8 million in cap space left this season, which means they have some solid flexibility to re-sign players. They did just that with Rob Ninkovich on Sunday.

Ninkovich has agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Patriots that will keep him in New England through the 2016 season, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. The deal is worth a maximum of $15 million with $8.5 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Ninkovich, 29, came to the Patriots in 2009, after uneventful stints with the New Orleans Saints, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2006, and the Miami Dolphins. The hybrid defensive end/linebacker made the Patriots’ 53-man roster out of training camp in 2009, playing in 15 games with the team primarily on special teams and as a reserve lineman. He’s established his place as a consistent contributor for this defense over the last three seasons, though, racking up 194 tackles, 18.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles in that time.

With Ninkovich’s contract set to expire at the end of this season, the Patriots were expected to make a strong push to keep the gritty lineman on the roster for a while longer. Now that they’ve inked Nink to an extension, the Patriots can turn their attention to some other key free agents like safety Devin McCourty (restricted free agent in 2015) cornerback Aqib Talib (unrestricted in 2014) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (unrestricted in 2014).

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