During a recent visit to PFT Live, 33-year-old Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said he has no specific plan for playing to a certain age and would take it one year at a time. As it turns out, this year could be the year when he retires.
Not after it, but before. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that Ninkovich has been absent from training-camp practices for what head coach Bill Belichick calls “personal reasons,” and that Ninkovich is not expected to practice on Sunday.
Reiss says Ninkovich has been considering retirement, and that “[i]t would be a surprise” if more clarity regarding his situation didn’t come “within the next 24 hours or so.”
Here’s one thing we know: Ninkovich won’t be playing elsewhere. He said during his PFT Live visit that he couldn’t see himself playing for any team other than the one for which he has played since 2009, a move that happened after bouncing around from New Orleans to Miami and back to New Orleans early in his career.
Ninkovich signed a one-year extension during the 2016 season, putting him under contract through 2017. If he retires, he’d potentially be required to refund a portion of his $1.5 million signing bonus.