Thoughts on the New England Patriots and Jerod Mayo agreeing to a contract restructure that will keep the veteran linebacker with the team through at least 2015:
This move seems very similar to that of Vince Wilfork from a year ago. At the time, Wilfork was coming off a season-ending leg injury and had a bloated cap hit the following season. The Patriots and Wilfork agreed to a three year deal, that was in reality a one year deal with two options. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Mayo’s new deal will be very similar. It’s a one year pact with $4.5 million in guarantees (the same as Mayo’s injury guarantee) and it is worth up to $6 million (likely with playing time incentives). The deal also has two option years. If Mayo plays well, the Patriots can either pick up what will likely be a lucrative deal for 2016. If he doesn’t perform well or can’t get on the field, the sides can part ways after just a year. Like the Wilfork deal, the move should also open up additional cap space for the team. We will have a better ideas of the exact number soon, but expect it to be in the neighborhood of four million.
Linebacker Depth Solidified
Having Jerod Mayo back in the fold makes the New England Patriots a better football team. While it is hard to see Mayo usurping Dont’a Hightower or Jamie Collins in playing time, he figures to still play a prominent role in 2015. The Patriots used a lot of two-linebacker looks as they were heavy in sub-packages in 2014, partially due to their opponents. In 2015, the Patriots project to play a more run-heavy schedule, and this means the Patriots could be in their base a lot more. Having Mayo in the fold also allows the Patriots to be more flexible with where they align both Collins and Hightower. And heck, we all missed the Jerod Mayo A-gap blitz.
Leadership stays in place
Even after he went down for the season, many of Jerod Mayo’s teammates continued to praise the veteran for his leadership in the film room and locker room. With Vince Wilfork departing for the Texans earlier in the offseason, losing Mayo as well might have created a big leadership void. Mayo is back now, and with the Patriots getting younger than ever on defense, they’ll need his leadership and intelligence.
Health is the key for Mayo
You’ve heard the narrative by now: Jerod Mayo needs to stay healthy. His last two injuries could probably be categorized under "freak accidents." Nonetheless, that does not change the fact that he has played in just 12 games over the last two seasons. If he is going to see years two and three of this new deal, or sign a big deal elsewhere following the season, he is going to need to put together a complete campaign in 2015. Look no further than former Patriot Ty Warren to see what a run of bad luck on injuries can do to a prominent defender.