New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots
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(2008-15). Jerod Mayo. 29. player. 47. . LB

  • Super Bowl Champion (XLIX)
  • NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2008)
  • 2x Pro Bowl (2010, 2012)
  • First-Team All-Pro (2010)

Even though his NFL career was cut short due to injury, there is no doubt how important Jerod Mayo was to the Patriots defense during the eight years he played for New England. The Patriots made an incredible selection by taking Mayo No. 10 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee.

Hold on a minute. How did the Patriots end up with a top-10 pick in the Brady/Belichick era? Pretty simple. They received this pick in a deal with the New Orleans Saints, a franchise that was in the beginning stages of the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era down in The Big Easy. Before that, the Saints weren’t exactly a well-run NFL franchise.

Mayo made a huge impact as a rookie in 2008, winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He played in all 16 games that season, registering 98 tackles, 28 assists, four passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Two years later, Mayo would have his best season as a professional. He made his first of two career trips to the Pro Bowl, earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2010. Mayo set career highs in tackles (114), assists (61), passes defended (five), fumble recoveries (three) and quarterback sacks (2.0).

In the midst of his prime, Mayo was the key on-field leader for the 2011 AFC Championship team. However, losing Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants wasn’t ideal. That being said, Mayo backed that up with another Pro Bowl campaign in 2012. He set new career highs in forced fumbles (four) and quarterback sacks (3.0) that fall.

Unfortunately, Mayo’s last three NFL seasons were largely marred by injury. He played in only 12 combined games in the 2013 and 2014 NFL seasons. Mayo tore his pectoral muscle and patella tendon in mid-October both seasons, resulting in him spending the rest of those years on Injured Reserve.

New England might have won Super Bowl XLIX over the Seattle Seahawks on an outstanding goal-line play by slot cornerback Malcolm Butler, but Mayo was unable to play in that game in Glendale due to injury.

While Mayo did play in all 16 regular season games for the Patriots in 2015, he lost significant playing time that fall to emerging linebacking talents Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Once again, Mayo saw his season end via injury. He hurt his shoulder in the AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos at Mile High. Mayo retired after eight NFL seasons, all with New England.

Overall, Mayo left an indelible impact on the Patriots culture. He in a way replaced long-time locker room leader Willie McGinest on the defensive side of the ball. Mayo played with great passion and helped spark the defensive turnaround necessary for the Patriots’ second run at Super Bowls in the Brady/Belichick era.