The vast majority of Rob Ninkovich’s success in the NFL came with the New England Patriots, but he’s still a part of New Orleans Saints lore.
Ninkovich was a fifth-round pick by the Saints in 2006, which proved to be one of the best draft classes in franchise history. Even though New Orleans regrettably cut him twice, he’s still regularly mentioned along with Reggie Bush, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Zach Strief and Marques Colston because all six of them spent at least 10 seasons in the NFL.
The 33-year-old Ninkovich announced his retirement on Sunday afternoon during a news conference in Foxborough, Mass. The pass-rushing linebacker played 11 seasons and told reporters he was listening to his body in deciding to retire before a 12th year in the NFL.
“He’s had a fabulous career,” Payton said. “When you look at the amount of players in his class in that one draft, all of them are close — Strief, Colston, Ninkovich, Bush, Harper, Jahri Evans. Those guys all played 10 or more years, and for him to have the success he had, not only as a player, but really as a teammate and as someone who’s had a chance to win Super Bowls, I’m excited for him. I think he’s a wonderful guy and a real good football player. I know he’s a great teammate as well.”
When Ninkovich was with New Orleans, he dealt with injuries, and coaches struggled to find a good fit for him in their 4-3 defense. After he played just three games as a rookie, the Saints cut Ninkovich in 2007, and the Miami Dolphins claimed him. He spent all of 2007 and part of 2008 with Miami, but was active for just five games.
Ninkovich returned to the Saints at…
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