Will Patriots Call Rob Ninkovich After Losing Dont’a Hightower?

BOSTON (CBS) — Dont’a Hightower is out for the season, and the Patriots are going to need some help on the defensive side of the football.

Why not call an old friend in Rob Ninkovich?

The MMQB’s Albert Breer joined Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning to react to the news, and he was asked if it would be crazy to believe the Patriots might make a call to Ninkovich, who abruptly retired during the summer.

“No, it’s not crazy,” Breer said. “We keep peppering with that question on our [television] pregame show. I will say that, I’ll give [Michael] Felger credit. Every single week he asks that question of Rob, and every single week Rob says, ‘I’m all good, I’m all done, I don’t want to play.’

“I will say that it looks like he could still play,” Breer continued. “I do know in these situations that money talks. So if they want to put a nice chunk of money in front of Rob Ninkovich and make it hard for him to say no, that might be different. I certainly would make that call. I know, having talked to some offensive coaches who have coached against the Patriots this year, that there’s a feeling that they do miss Rob Ninkovich’s versatility out there. And when you talk about what they’re going to lose in Hightower, a guy who can play multiple spots, that’s absolutely part of who Rob Ninkovich was in all of his time there.

“So if I’m the Patriots, I absolutely pick up the phone and make that call. I think the question is how much does it take for it to be worth Rob’s while to come out of retirement.”

Fred Toucher needled Breer a little bit, saying that Breer “knows” that Ninkovich wants to play.

“I’m just telling you what he told us on the record,” Breer said. “But I also know that there’s probably a point financially where you might be able to entice anyone to come back and play nine games.”

Rich Shertenlieb said that he’s heard that Ninkovich has been working out and keeping himself in shape as if he’s going to play, and then he took to Twitter to ask the man directly.

Ninkovich has yet to tweet his intentions.

If Ninkovich isn’t available, what might the Patriots do?

“I think you can look at the sort of player they’ve brought in at the trade deadline the last few years, and [Kyle] Van Noy was one of those guys,” Breer said. “I could certainly see them picking up a couple of mid-level pieces. …  I would think that there’d be at least an effort out there made by the Patriots to go and add a couple of bodies. … I would think there would be some sort of effort to go out there and add some depth so you can at least attack the problem that way.”

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