New England Patriots Should Look to Trade LB Jerod Mayo


More than ever before, the New England Patriots have been aggressive in the early season trade market. Bill Belichick and his staff are doing a nice job of filling the few holes that exist on the roster, and finding under-valued talent with upside.

The recent acquisition of Jonathan Bostic from the Chicago Bears could allow for the Patriots to deal from the linebacker position. Jerod Mayo would be the obvious trade candidate here, and the Patriots should be shopping him to other teams.

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Mayo was once the vocal and physical leader of the Patriots’ defense. He was the one who made all of the defensive calls, while playing a high-level at inside linebacker. However, in recent years, Mayo has struggled with injuries, and has now been passed up on the depth chart.

Mayo was an immediate starter for the Patriots after they drafted him in the first round (10th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was a valuable contributor from the get-go, and that continued through his first five NFL seasons. Starting in 2013, Mayo started to have some issues.

In that 2013 season, Mayo began the year in his usual position of leader of the Patriots’ defense. Unfortunately, he pectoral muscle early in the season, and missed the rest of the year after only playing six games. The Patriots simply could not replace Mayo’s play and leadership on the field, and their defense struggled mightily in his absence.

Mayo returned to the field in 2014, but only played six games again, this time tearing  Patellar ligament in his knee. The Patriots were more prepared for the loss of Mayo this time around, as Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins picked up the squad in the absence of Mayo.

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is tackled by New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) and outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The duo of Hightower and Collins were absolutely dominant down the stretch for New England, and were a huge reason why the Patriots were able to take home the Lombardi Trophy. Belichick implemented a two-linebacker system that highlighted the skills of Hightower and Collins. Early in this season, the Patriots have continued to run a lot of that same defensive scheme.

Despite being healthy, Mayo is on the outside looking in for playing time. The Patriots have been able to find a role for him as a run defending linebacker and special teams contributor, but gone are the days of Mayo being the Patriots’ primary defender.

This is not necessarily a poor reflection on Mayo’s ability. He still looks like a good player. That being said, Collins and Hightower are incredible, with both players being among the best linebackers that the NFL has to offer. The Patriots have had a lot of success with their two linebacker system being the primary defensive scheme. I am sure they would love to get Mayo on the field more, but it is not broke, there is no reason to fix it.

Mayo is too talented and productive to be sitting on the sidelines as much as he is. However, what can the Patriots do? He is not replacing Collins or Hightower anytime soon, and Bostic, Jonathan Freeny and Rufus Johnson provide plenty of depth behind them.

Trading Mayo is the answer here, as will provide much more value to another team than he will to the Patriots. The Patriots may look to add a player in exchange for Mayo (perhaps a cornerback?), but draft pick compensation is much more likely.

I would not be surprised to see the Patriots land a third round pick (or thereabouts) for their veteran linebacker. He is a proven player who still has productive years ahead of him. Getting him on the field more is a must, even if it is with another team.

Next: What Can Recent DL Acquisition Akiem Hicks Bring to Patriots?

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