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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Pats to sign Jonathan Fanene

By Mike Reiss
ESPNBoston.com

Former Bengals defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots on a three-year contract worth close to $12 million, according to a source. The deal includes a $3.85 million signing bonus, the source said.

Fanene, who will turn 30 next week, is a Utah product and a native of American Samoa. Drafted in the seventh round in 2005 by Cincinnati, Fanene has played in 71 games in seven seasons with the Bengals, making 17 starts.

Fanene was one of two Bengals defensive linemen to leave the team Wednesday. Defensive end Frostee Rucker agreed to a five-year, $20 million deal with the Cleveland Browns, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

At 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, Fanene has some position versatility, playing both at end and tackle in the Bengals' 4-3 defense. He recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks last season, playing in all 16 games (two starts). Making 10 starts in 2009, he posted a career-high 36 tackles and six sacks.

With some thin spots along the Patriots' defensive line, Fanene was a player to monitor heading into free agency. In New England, he projects to have a role as an interior pass rusher, but could also have a role at defensive end on early downs.

The Patriots also agreed to terms Wednesday on a deal with linebacker and core special teamer Tracy White, according to a source.

White, who enters his 10th NFL season, finished second on the Patriots in special teams tackles in each of the past two years.

With special teams captain Matthew Slater in the process of finalizing an agreement to return to the Patriots, and linebacker Niko Koutouvides extending his contract through 2012, the club keeps another key piece of its special teams group in place with White.

While White's primary contributions come on special teams, the 6-foot, 230-pound linebacker also saw an increase in playing time on defense last season, mostly in sub packages, as he played 18 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

That increase in playing time was highlighted in Super Bowl XLVI, when he started and played 22 first-half snaps.

White, who has played for the Seahawks (2003-2004), Jaguars (2005), Packers (2006-2008) and Eagles (2008-2009), was acquired in a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 5, 2010.

ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton contributed to this report.