The average age of the Patriots’ current roster is 25 years old. (NFL Game Rewind)
It’s hard to say when it started, but it’s clearer now. A youth movement is underway inside Gillette Stadium.
This March saw the 33-year-old Vince Wilfork, the 30-year-old Brandon Browner and the 29-year-old Darrelle Revis leave the defensive side of the ball. And it saw the 32-year-old Dan Connolly remain unsigned along the offensive side, after the team’s third-longest tenured player, the 33-year-old Logan Mankins, was traded last August.
Yet it isn’t so much about whom will replace them. It’s how.
There have been 13 free-agent additions in preparation the 2015 NFL season. Only one, a reserve-future signing and ex-Tennessee Titans defensive lineman named Antonio Johnson, has already hit his third decade. There have been eight free agents retained. And only two, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and defensive tackle Alan Branch, have reached that same point.
In result, the average age of a New England Patriots player – at the moment – is 25 years old.
Rob Ninkovich recorded eight sacks for New England last season. (NFL Game Rewind)
Rob Ninkovich and the New England Patriots have agreed to a contract adjustment increase, ESPN’s Adam Caplan and Mike Reiss detailed Wednesday afternoon.
The organization raised the left defensive end’s scheduled earnings for the 2015 season to $5 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed.
Ninkovich’s previous pact had him slated to earn a total of $2.45 million next season, with a base salary of $2.1 million, a $250,000 roster bonus, a $100,000 workout bonus, and altogether, a $3.95 million cap hit.
A 2015 free agent, Akeem Ayers’ future in New England is unclear. (NFL Game Rewind)
The New England Patriots stand one week from the combine, one month from free agency, and less than three months from the NFL draft. That span will come with its twists and turns, but one corridor it could lead New England’s personnel department down is edge rush.
Four Patriots defensive ends registered sacks during the 2014 season. Rob Ninkovich logged eight of them off the left side over 1,040 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, while Chandler Jones logged six of them off the right side over 577 snaps. And when Jones was sidelined for six games with a hip injury, it was Akeem Ayers, a former 4-3 and 3-4 outside linebacker with the Tennessee Titans, who stepped in to log five.
Only now, the 25-year-old Ayers is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, and that may leave the 24-year-old Jones and the 31-year-old Ninkovich without a clear-cut running mate again in 2015.
Rob Ninkovich ended his sixth year in New England with a Super Bowl. (NFL Game Rewind)
A former New Orleans Saints fifth-rounder and Miami Dolphins practice-squadder, Rob Ninkovich didn’t know what would come of signing with the New England Patriots in August of 2009.
Ninkovich had seen his rookie year in New Orleans end on injured reserve. He had seen himself waived and claimed by Miami to play in four games during his second year. And he had seen himself claimed off Miami’s practice squad by the team that drafted him during his third year.
The product of Joliet Junior College and Purdue University had been tested at defensive end, outside linebacker and long snapper over that span. Only he struggled to stay in one place long enough to see the results. By July of 2009, Ninkovich had been waived again after the Saints signed long snapper Jason Kyle.
But a new place would arrive for Ninkovich only three days later.
Rob Ninkovich left his mark on Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. (NFL Game Rewind)
Rob Ninkovich had a part in the New England Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts. It was each play.
The ninth-year defensive end was persistent against Colts tackle Joe Reitz, guard Lance Louis and quarterback Andrew Luck. And while that persistence seldom registered in the highlights of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, it registered elsewhere at Gillette Stadium.
In the backfield, in the flats, and in the score.