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NFL NOTEBOOK: 49ers make Willis highest paid LB

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers held a press conference Tuesday during which one hall-of-fame middle linebacker introduced another middle linebacker with hall-of-fame potential.
The news of the day was Patrick Willis’ new contract extension. Willis had been signed through the 2011 season. His new, five-year, $50 million extension makes him a 49er until 2016 and means he is the highest-paid inside linebacker in the history of the NFL.
The subtext of the day was that the 49ers, who won five championships with crisp passing and offensive ingenuity, believe they can win a sixth through grit, hustle and blue-collar defense.
Willis is the embodiment of all those things and more.
Since entering the league in 2007, he has led the NFL in tackles twice and has made the Pro Bowl three times. He sent a strong signal that he would be a special player when, as a rookie, he played half the season with a broken hand, never missed a snap and ended up with a league-best 174 tackles, the highest total in the past decade.
Bengals close to inking Pacman?
Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones got a second look from the Cincinnati Bengals, an indication that the team with a history of trying to rehabilitate troubled players might be considering its next project.
The Bengals hadn’t made a formal contract proposal as of Tuesday evening, agent Tom Hunter told The Associated Press. Jones was in town for his second workout with the team.
Cincinnati is among a handful of teams that showed an interest in Jones, who was released by the Cowboys after the 2008 season and didn’t play last year. Only 26 years old, Jones has seen his career bottom out because of his repeated arrests.
Bengals WR Purify arrested
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Maurice Purify has been arrested on a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct following a scuffle at a northern Kentucky night spot. Police say Purify was arrested early Tuesday morning after they broke up a fight at the night spot, located directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. He was released later in the day on $500 bond.
Browns sign TE Smith
The Cleveland Browns have signed free agent tight end Alex Smith, who started five games for Philadelphia last season. Smith has made 132 catches for 1,277 yards and 11 touchdowns in five years in the NFL. He had three receptions for 25 yards last season for the Eagles.
Bucs KR Smith signs tender
Kick returner and reserve running back Clifton Smith has signed a one-year tender to remain with Tampa Bay. Smith entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2008. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie after becoming the first player in club history to return a kickoff and punt for touchdowns.
Story tags » NFL

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