There are always surprising retirements during the NFL off-season. We have already seen Calvin Johnson and Marshawn Lynch say they are hanging up their cleats, and over-night Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo decided it was his time as well. Mayo, the 10th pick in the 2008 draft, has been a staple of the Patriots defense since his first day in Foxboro. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year and then was named a team captain in just his second season, something he has been named every year since. At just 29 Mayo’s retirement is something of a surprise. With his 2016 cap hit of $11.4 million (2nd on the team only to Tom Brady) and a roster bonus of $4 million due soon it was thought that the Patriots may not retain the services of Mayo into 2016, at least not at that amount of money. His last three seasons have all ended on injured reserve and that is not something teams are keen to pay $11.4 million dollars for. It would appear that Jerod Mayo would rather not play at all than suit up for a team that wasn’t the New England Patriots. He did not cite injury concerns or loss of passion for the game in his statement on Instagram, just that he was grateful for his time in New England and that he was retiring a Patriot. As a Patriots fan myself I can only say that I am very grateful too. Grateful for the effort he put forth and the passion with which he played. Mayo helped bridge the gap from the “original” Patriots defense of Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel (who played their last season for the team in 2008) through some rough waters to its impressive incarnation today. While his leadership and experience will be missed around the team, on the field he had been surpassed by Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, seeing his role greatly reduced in 2015, who stayed on the field in nickel situations and made plays in coverage that Mayo simply couldn’t any longer. Jerod Mayo could undoubtedly help a NFL team in 2016, be it as a player or even a coach, but if he has decided to call it time on a successful career then who are we to argue? Best of luck #51, and thanks for all the memories.