After eight years, Jerod Mayo's time with the New England Patriots and in the NFL has drawn to a close, as the team released him Tuesday.
The veteran linebacker confirmed his departure in an Instagram post, adding that he plans on retiring:
Albert Breer of NFL Network provided financial implications of the decision:
The Patriots will save $7 million on their cap with Jerod Mayo off the books, with $4.4 million in dead money left.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 16, 2016
Mayo doesn't plan to coach, according to Breer, who added he has "business interests he'll dive into."
After appearing in just 12 combined games in 2013 and 2014, the 29-year-old remained healthy throughout the 2015 campaign, playing in every regular-season game for New England. He made only eight starts, though, as Jonathan Freeny emerged as a viable starting option while Dont'a Hightower was injured.
Mayo's 47 combined tackles were the lowest total of his eight-year career. Couple that with his torn pectoral, which put him on injured reserve in January, and it was clear Mayo's future in New England was in jeopardy, whether he continued playing or not. Prior to the Super Bowl, Pro Football Focus' Josh Breitenbach explained why Mayo was on shaky footing:
Although he was able to suit up for the majority of this season, he was below both Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower in the pecking order. Mayo’s performances have fallen some way since 2012, much like (Ryan) Clady. He finished the year as our 58th overall LB, missing eight of 50 attempted tackles, culminating in a 43.0 run defense grade. In contrast, Mayo missed just five tackles out of 136 three seasons ago, and finished as our fourth-overall LB. Another team will likely give him a shot to recapture that form—it just may not be the cash-strapped Patriots.
Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com added that Mayo has had a swift fall from grace:
Jerod Mayo a good example of how quickly NFL window can close. From Captain and Pro Bowl LB to 3-straight injuries to cut and maybe finished— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) February 16, 2016
According to Over the Cap, New England had a little over $5.8 million available this offseason before this move, which ranked among the lowest in the league in terms of cap space. Mayo was originally set to earn $3.25 million in 2016 and then $6.75 million in 2017 before hitting free agency.
The Patriots remain one of the AFC's best teams, but the roster clearly has flaws. Bleacher Report's Chris Simms argued the team could use a cornerback, running back and top-tier wide receiver to cement its status as a Super Bowl contender:
Head coach Bill Belichick wouldn't have been able to make those necessary upgrades with Mayo still on the roster.
If the Patriots are looking to bolster their depth at inside linebacker following Mayo's retirement, they should be able to find a more cost-effective option either on the free-agent market or in the draft.
Mayo leaves the NFL having been named to two Pro Bowls and earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2010. He was also a member of New England's title-winning team at Super Bowl XLIX and was the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2008.