Rob Ninkovich finished with five total tackles, including half a sack, during the Patriots’ 23-3 win on Sunday. But the real news surrounding the Pats’ defensive end broke before the game. The team had locked him up through the 2016 season.
The deal reportedly includes $8.5 million in guaranteed money and bonuses, and if you’re considering Ninkovich’s play since the Pats signed him as a free agent in 2009, it’s a bargain for New England.
“I’m glad it worked out,” head coach Bill Belichick said yesterday. “Rob’s done a great job for us. He’s come in here and gotten better each year. He’s gotten kind of a bigger role for us each year. He’s played linebacker, defensive end, all special teams. So he’s a versatile player [who has] given us a lot of production. [He’s a] hard-working guy [who is] a well-respected player on the team. So I’m happy we got it done.”
Ninkovich has missed just one regular season game since 2009. As the team’s defense has evolved from a 3-4 to a 4-3, he has moved from linebacker to defensive end seamlessly.
“I don’t know that I knew or anybody knew that it was going to turn out that way,” Belichick said of Ninkovich’s increased role over the years.
Ninkovich had a career-high eight sacks last year to go with a career-high five forced fumbled and four fumble recoveries.
Not bad for a guy the Patriots took a flyer on years back for next to nothing.
“Everything he’s gotten, he’s earned,” Belichick said. “He had no right or entitlement to anything. He just came in here and earned it. And he’s been doing it for several years now.”