With Ninkovich Retired The Patriots Have Big Shoes To Fill
With NFL training camps officially opened across the league the New England Patriots received some unexpected news last week.Eight year veteran Rob Ninkovich officially announced his retirement. With Ninkovich officially retired the next question is who will replace Ninkovich at outside linebacker? In eight years with New England Ninkovich has made three trips to the Super Bowl winning two of them. Not only has he won two of them from 2010 until 2016 Ninkovich played in all sixteen of the Patriots regular season games. That in itself is a pretty impressive milestone. Whoever does earn his position it won’t be easy replacing his durability and work ethic. One name to keep an eye on is third year man Trey Flowers. Flowers rose to the occasion last year in the playoffs and had a great Super Bowl. Aside from Flowers look for linebackers Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy and Geno Grissom to compete. Newly acquired David Harris and Kony Ealy will provide depth but may not be the solution. With just four draft picks in 2016 the Patriots selected two players on defense. Derek Rivers an outside linebacker from Youngstown State was their number three pick. With the fourth pick they selected Deatrich Wise a defensive tackle from Arkansas. Don’t expect to much from Rivers or Wise maybe with the exception of special teams. Out of the group the best bet to replace Ninkovich is Trey Flowers. The Patriots should have a good idea who can replace Ninkovich after the final preseason game. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots make some moves during the summer if Belichick isn’t satisfied with what he sees. One interesting name to keep an eye on is free agent Dwight Freeney. Freeney is thirty seven years old but still has plenty of juice in his legs. Freeney would be a perfect short term fit for two or three years. If the Patriots don’t feel happy with what they have he would certainly be an upgrade . No matter which direction the Patriots go in Rob Ninkovich certainly leaves behind an impressive resume three trips to the Super Bowl and winning two of them not to mention ninety six straight games.