As you all probably know by now, New England Patriots’ linebacker and captain Jerod Mayo has called it quits at the age of 29. He finishes up an impressive career as an NFL player, but at the end of the day, it was probably the best thing for both parties.
Mayo was the Patriots’ first-round pick back in 2008 (via a trade with Dallas, since Dictator Goodell took away the Patriots’ real first-round slot over SpyGate) at #10 overall out of Tennessee. Right away, the Virginia native was exceptional. He took over the starting job as a rookie, and he started calling the defensive plays on the field at some point that season. Over the duration of his career, he racked up 537 tackles, 11 sacks and 3 picks.
He was the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time member of the NFL All Pro team. Most importantly, he won a Super Bowl with the Pats two seasons ago. Though he probably does still have some good years of football left, since he would be entering his age-30 season in 2016, he’s battled some injuries over the last few years. More specifically, he’s had issues with his pectoral muscle (2013), his patellar tendon (2014) and his shoulder (this past season), all of which has ended his seasons. To be honest, I doubt that’s the extent of his injuries- he was a surprise top-ten pick due to his injury history at Tennessee, and he was always the type that would play through his pain. Since he’s done it all in the NFL, coupled with the fact that he probably wouldn’t have been enshrined in Canton if he kept playing, it was a good time to call it quits.
This is good for the Patriots, too. It saves the sad, unfortunate and uncomfortable conversation of cutting him for Pats management- a conversation that inevitably was going to go down. It’s hard to put a price tag on a guy who is a great leader and an exemplary member of the New England community, but it’s easy to put a price tag on a guy who has consistently battled injuries the last three seasons. And $11.4 million is too big of a price tag. With Mayo retiring, they save $7 million (while he gets the other $4.4 million) that can go to guys that they need to resign. They’re in good shape at the linebacker position, with headliners Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins anchoring the middle of the field. But they both need new contracts soon. So does Malcolm Butler. So does Chandler Jones. Cutting Mayo was going to be a necessary evil, so it’s nice in a way that he’s leaving on his own terms.
I’ll always have a special place for #51 in my heart. TJ and I were lucky enough to see him play in a preseason game when he was first drafted. At the time, he was fighting for some recognition from his new coaches, and he completely delivered. I don’t remember or care if they won that game against the Ravens since it’s preseason, but I remember him always being around the play. Mayo had great instincts and even better leadership skills. It’s a damn shame that injuries slowed him down, because for five straight seasons (each with over 90 tackles a season, the highest total being a whopping 175 in ‘10), he was straight-up dominant.
While he won’t necessarily be missed on the field, since his production has been replaced, his leadership will be. Happy trails 51, we’ll miss you.
Cover Photo courtesy of NFL.com (please don’t fine me or take any more Patriots draft picks Roger).
GIFs courtesy of vikefans.com, SB Nation, and gamedayr.com, in no particular order.