Jerod Mayo was probably not going to be a Patriot next season, at least not at his current salary. The linebacker has missed the ends of the last three seasons with injuries, and carried the team’s second biggest cap hit behind Tom Brady, and the Pats were expected to release him or demand a significant pay cut. When it came down to playing for New England or not playing at all, Mayo chose the latter.
Mayo made the announcement on his Instagram last night. (“Thundercat” is owner Robert Kraft. I’m desperate to know why.)
If the note was a little ambiguous, Mayo’s agent confirmed to ESPN that he’s retiring.
The 10th overall pick out of Tennessee in 2008, Mayo immediately stepped in to anchor the middle of the Patriots D, and for a team that always valued its linebacker play, served as a bridge from the Tedy Bruschi era to the current likes of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. But in recent years, injuries kept him off the field (torn pecs in 2013 and 2015, a torn patellar tendon in 2014) and even when healthy this past season, he saw reduced playing time. With an $11.4 million cap hit pending, he had become expendable. Well liked, well respected, possessing a strong work ethic and a maturity beyond his years, Mayo probably has a future in coaching if he wants it.
It may be confirmation bias, but it sure feels like more players in recent years have decided to end their careers when they’ve still got miles left in the tank. It’s probably pointless to try to draw any big-picture inferences—everyone’s decision is their own, for their own reasons—but it’s surely notable that players are choosing to leave football when football’s still an option.