New England Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich to announce retirement

FOXBOROUGH MA- JUNE 07 New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich warms up during New England Patriots minicamp

Ninkovich signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2009 after playing with the Saints and Dolphins.

New England Patriots defensive stalwart and leader Rob Ninkovich has made a decision to call it a career, and will be making the move official later today at a 12:15 pm press conference.

This was the Patriots' way of giving Ninkovich, who arrived with his wife, Paige, and their daughter Olivia, the first-class send-off they feel he deserved.

Ninkovich played in 131 National Football League games with 101 starts and recorded 425 total tackles, 46 sacks, five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, with 22 passes defensed, 10 forced fumbles, 14 fumble recoveries and 28 special teams tackles. He finishes his career with 46 sacks and 10 forced fumbles.

The hard-nose linebacker was a fifth-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 NFL Draft. He bounced around early in his National Football League career before finding a home in New England. He also appeared in 16 postseason games, collecting 34 tackles, six sacks and an interception.

"Rob is one of the most unselfish players I've ever coached", Belichick said Sunday.

#Rob Ninkovich issued a statement at the conference with the team on Sunday.

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Belichick and Kraft spoke before Ninkovich made his announcement.

Ninkovich played in 44.3 percent of the defensive snaps in 2016, which was lower than his norm, in part because he served a four-game suspension to open the season after a positive test for a banned substance he said was from an over-the-counter supplement.

"I love it here, and I'm going to miss it".

To special-teams captain Matthew Slater, he said, "I love you, brother". "Whatever you need me to do'".

"We're thankful for all of Rob's countless contributions for the past eight seasons", Kraft said.

The most emotional may have been when he looked right at Belichick and said, "Coach, I gave you everything I had".