Mabus has told the Patriots, along with the Ravens and 6th round pick Keenan Reynolds, that the two former Navy football players will be able to play in the NFL this upcoming season, and that both will be able to fulfill their five year obligations to the Navy in the Reserve Forces.
There were prior concerns about Cardona's eligibility in 2016 when Cardona was assigned a ship and the Patriots signed long snapper Christian Yount.
Cardona would continue to serve the Navy in active duty by working a 24-hour shift at the Naval Academy Preparatory School once a week.
Secretary Mabus spoke with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick from Nepal on Thursday to make them aware of his decision. The final hurdle prior to Cardona's approval comes from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and, per ESPN's Mike Reiss, it's looking good for the Patriots.