New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo retired this offseason, but the franchise apparently wanted him to return.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald spoke with Mayo about his life after football and slipped in the key information.
"Coach Bill Belichick had an offer on the table for Mayo," Howe writes. "But the eight-year veteran and seven-time captain was ready for a challenge that wasn’t so time consuming."
"There’s no doubt that I could have played, but I would never play for anyone else," Mayo said. "That’s the reality of the situation. The only team I would ever want to play for is the New England Patriots... I had a great run playing for the Patriots, and I’ll always be a part of their organization. Those guys know I’ll always be one phone call away, and I’ll always be up here in Massachusetts. I still feel as though I’m part of the team."
The implication is that the Patriots were open to Mayo's return in a playing capacity- but for what purpose? Mayo would clearly be behind both Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins in the depth chart, and the Patriots coaches continuously tried to push for Jonathan Freeny to see the field ahead of Mayo during the regular season.
New England ultimately added linebacker Shea McClellin in free agency to take over for Mayo's role, and hopefully to keep Freeny in a special teams function. Mayo provided little on special teams and would have had to expand his role.
Mayo has finished the past three seasons on the injured reserve and he decided that it was time to retire- although he clearly seems open to a possible return in a different capacity.
"Maybe down the road," he said. "I love the game, I do. I love football. I love the X’s and O’s of the game. I love putting in the time and just breaking down players and breaking down schemes. That’s something that has always piqued my interest, from a young child, so who knows what God has in store for me down the line."
I consider Mayo to be one of the most influential Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick and I would be thrilled if and when he decided to return to the game. With defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in line to receive a head coaching job in the next few seasons, and with linebacker coach Brian Flores the assumed successor, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Mayo back in with the linebackers before 2020.
Check out Howe's whole article here, where he discusses Mayo's current job in the corporate world.