What to do with Jerod Mayo?

Mayo is an interesting contract situation this offseason. (AP)
An unquestioned leader on the Patriots, and arguably one of their best players, Jerod Mayo faces an interesting offseason in regards to his contract situation. With a $10.287 cap hit, Mayo is a top five player in terms of cap charges this coming season. What makes this a tricky situation is that Mayo hasn't finished either of the last two seasons due to season ending injuries, and with the Patriots cap situation in a delicate state, the Patriots want him to actually earn that type of money. So where do things stand?

When Mayo signed his last contract, he worked in a $4.5 million injury guarantee which creates a scenario where the Patriots wouldn't be able to release him without taking a large hit to their cap number, in addition to the dead money it would cause. On top of the injury guarantee, the Patriots would be very hard pressed to cut Mayo, given his $6 million dead money this year, and $2.4 million the next year, making his return inevitable. The other downside from the Patriots perspective is that Mayo can hold that over them until he is cleared through passing a physical, which Jeff Howe points out might not be for another couple months.

Another bargaining chip Mayo has is the fact that Dont'a Hightower may not be ready in time for camp, or maybe even the start of the season. With the Patriots linebacking corps already thin, they cannot afford to be down to only Jamie Collins and any free agents/rookies they may be bringing in. While it is too early to know how Hightower may progress through his rehab, it cannot be assumed that he will be 100% by the time next season begins.

Jerod Mayo would most likely want to remain with the Patriots, and the Patriots almost certainly want Jerod Mayo to stay, but something needs to happen for both sides to help each other out. Mayo is a leader on this team, and remained by his teammates sides throughout the season and Super Bowl run, going as far as leading the pre-game chant for the Super Bowl. When he plays, he is a great three-down linebacker that can cover, blitz, and stop the run. With an improved Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, this linebacking corps could be one of the best in the league.

Both sides just need to sit down and talk out a solution. Unfortunately, with Revis, McCourty, Gostowski, and Vereen all likely being on the docket and as more urgent, Mayo and the Patriots may have to wait to sit down at the table, but it will happen.

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