Banta-Cain's production rewarded

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran linebacker Tully Banta-Cain returned to the Patriots this offseason in hopes of reviving his career after two unproductive seasons in San Francisco. The revival has come quicker than expected, with Banta-Cain emerging as one of the team's top pass-rushers.

As a reward Tuesday, the Patriots and Banta-Cain agreed to a contract extension through 2011, according to a source familiar with the deal.

To consummate the extension, the Patriots had to release Banta-Cain on Monday as a procedural matter.

Banta-Cain's extension boosts his 2009 base salary from $620,000 to $1.8 million, according to the source. He'll earn base salaries of $1.3 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in 2011, and will have a chance to earn additional money based on playing time and Pro Bowl incentives in the final two years of the pact.

Banta-Cain is the fourth Patriots player to sign an extension this season, joining special-teams captain Sam Aiken (2011) and offensive linemen Nick Kaczur (2012) and Mark LeVoir (2011).

Banta-Cain is tied for the team lead with three sacks. He's played in all six games, with two starts, and has been a solid contributor on special teams.

The Patriots are in the process of striking a similar deal with linebacker Eric Alexander, multiple sources familiar with that negotiation said. Alexander's main contributions come on special teams.