In the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots drafted a player out of Tennessee, who would become a key member of the team's defensive re-tooling process, a team captain and one of the better linebackers in the league: Jerod Mayo.
Unfortunately, after five very good seasons, injuries started to catch up with the two-time Pro Bowler as Mayo ended his last three seasons on injured reserve. The combination of Mayo's injury history and contract structure - he is due a $4.0 million roster bonus on March 9 and is scheduled to have an $11.4 million cap hit - has led to speculation about his future in New England.
A recent Instagram post titled "RETIRING A PATRIOT" sheds a little light on the situation, as it seems that Mayo's (playing) days in New England are over after eight seasons:
After a lot of thought Chantel and I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for what we consider a life changing event.....that of becoming a New England Patriot for the last eight years. We are extremely grateful to "Thundercat", Jonathan, the Kraft family, Coach Belichick, the Pats organization, and the most amazing fans in contributing to these pages of our lives. As my family and I prepare for the future be sure that the Pats memories will always hold a special place in our hearts. #51 JMayo
With Mayo, who has played 111 games for the Patriots, apparently retiring, New England will lose one of its core players - both on and off the field. As a player, when healthy, the soon-to-be 30-year old was one of the smartest and most instinctive linebackers in the NFL.
Simultaneously he was often called the "heart and soul" of New England's defense; a leader on the field and off it. While Mayo's on-field production has been replaced by Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, his leadership will certainly be missed.
Thank you for everything, Jerod, and all the best for your future endeavors!