Jerod Mayo leaving football, will work for Optum


Jerod Mayo leaving football, will work for Optum

Many thought Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo would get into coaching in retirement. Throughout his career he was lauded as a film junkie and one of the team's extensions of the coaching staff on the field. A future coach was in the making, it seemed. 

While Mayo plans to be around the game in some capacity in retirement, he's looking forward to a future in business. He told the team's radio show PFW in Progress that he planned to work with Optum, a health services and innovation company, now that his playing career is over. 

"I've always had an interest in business," Mayo said. "I've been doing a lot of things the last two or three years. I've been on [injured reserve] so I had a lot of time. I had a lot of time to start making this pivot."

Mayo didn't specify what his role would be with the company, but as one of the more gregarious people to enter the Patriots locker room over the last few years, he hopes his skill set as a team-builder will serve him well in the next phase of his professional life.

"Half of it is all about relationships in business," Mayo said. "A lot is about relationships. They told me pretty much I can dibble and dabble and learn what I want to learn. I want to learn about mergers and acquisitions and things like that."

Mayo still plans to be around the game in some capacity in the future, but he felt like at 30 years old, this offseason was the right time to decide to step away. 

"My family and I, we just sat down and we talked about it," Mayo said. "Honestly, at the end of the day, I feel too good to come back and play, as weird as it sounds. That sounds weird, but I feel great. This has been a great platform for me. I will always be a Patriot.

"I could never play for someone else, I told Bill [Belichick] that. If teams were calling, I would never go. I could never see myself playing for another team. I'm big into loyalty . . . The Kraft family and coach Belichick, they've always been loyal to me and I owe it to them. It hasn't been about money . . . It honestly was never really about the money after you finish that first contract. I just love the game of football. It's all about relationships, I've formed some great relationships, from the people in the kitchen to the janitors and the coaches. I've always tried to treat everyone the same, leave a legacy of giving back."

Mayo formed relationships with his teammates that he hopes will have lasting effects as well. Each of his last three seasons in the league ended with him on season-ending injured reserve, but after each injury he hung around the team in order to impart whatever wisdom he could.

"It was difficult [being injured]," Mayo explained, "but at the same time I feel like I was able to influence some of the younger guys just like how I was influenced when I first got into the league by Tedy Bruschi and guys like that. I took kind of that mentor role as I was rehabbing.

"It was difficult, but at the same time I felt like it was a blessing in disguise, being able to learn more about the game of football, strategies and tactics. I spent a lot of time with coach Belichick and his son, and Matty [Patricia], just learning the ins and outs. I enjoy it. I still enjoy the game. I'll still be around the game somehow some way."

That includes watching the Patriots on Sundays from his couch.

"Definitely," Mayo said. "Definitely . . . if I'm not in the Optum Lounge."

While doing some rehab work on Thursday, Mayo was surprised by team owner Robert Kraft with a retirement gift: his last game jersey presented in a frame.

"It was a surprise," Mayo said. "I literally, I was in there doing a little rehab, then I went upstairs. I have a white t-shirt on. I'm already sweating a little bit, and all of a sudden all of the cameras come over. It was a legit surprise. But it was a great one. I'm very appreciative to the organization, Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick, everyone, so it was a great time." 

During the Annual NFL Meeting in Boca Raton, Fla. this week, Belichick praised Mayo for everything he did in New England during his eight-year career, calling him "special" and a "pillar" of the franchise. He also said that Mayo taught him more than he taught Mayo. 

"I find that hard to believe," Mayo said. "It's a great compliment. Maybe about things in the locker room and things like that, but Bill's a great guy. A lot of people don't see him the same way I see him, but he's a great teacher, a great mentor, not only about football, but also just becoming a man and being a pillar in the community.

"A lot of people don't talk about that with Bill, but he does give back a lot. Anytime I had a charity or something like that, he would sign something and he would ask me before I would ask him, 'You need something?' I try to use those principles now with my kids and my family, and hopefully I can use some of those principles that he used to lead these great football teams in the next aspect of my life." 

Don't pigeonhole me: How will Adrian Clayborn fit into the Patriots defense?

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Don't pigeonhole me: How will Adrian Clayborn fit into the Patriots defense?

Looking for a two-word answer from Bill Belichick during a press conference? Ask him how a new addition to the roster might fit into the Patriots scheme. 

"We'll see," is Belichick's typical reply in those situations. 


We point that out here because it's hard to know exactly what any new player's role will be with the Patriots, particularly for an edge player like Adrian Clayborn. That spot in Belichick's defense can take on a variety of roles, from pass-rusher, to edge-setter, to coverage player. 

But we can take an educated guess as to how Clayborn will fit in the Patriots defense, based on what we know. That's what the Patriots did when they signed him. They saw certain skills. They saw Clayborn perform in certain situations. They made their projection. 

There's always the chance Clayborn asserts himself in a way that wasn't expected. Or maybe the way he fits with his new teammates will open his coaches' eyes in ways they weren't anticipating. But at this point, as is the case with every new addition, they're hypothesizing. So we will too. 

AGAINST THE PASS: Clayborn was, for the vast majority of his snaps, a pass-rusher for the Falcons last year. He played 631 snaps for the Falcons, which was 53.4 of their defensive snaps. Of those 631 plays, Clayborn rushed the quarterback 477 times, per Pro Football Focus (76 percent of his workload). And of those pass-rush snaps, only one came from the left side. (Clayborn was born with Erb's palsy, which means his right arm has some limitations compared to his left, which impacts the side of the field he aligns on. He played 91 percent of his snaps from the right side in 2016.)  Clayborn played over 80 percent of the snaps during each of his first three seasons in the league as a member of the Bucs so he's been a three-down player before. But recent history would suggest the 6-foot-2, 280-pounder is now more of a sub option.

Here's how Clayborn responded during a conference call on Wednesday when asked if he could chip in on first and second down for the Patriots. "I believe that’s what people have pigeon-holed me in as a third-down player, but I know I can play first, second, third down if need be," he said. "That was my role in Atlanta because that’s what they asked me to do, but I mean, I can play all three downs if you ask me."

AGAINST THE RUN: According to Pro Football Focus, Clayborn has been a negatively-graded player against the run during each of his seven seasons in the NFL. Last year he checked in as PFF's 78th-ranked run defender among edge players, which was far below the ranking Trey Flowers received (19th) but ahead of Deatrich Wise (85th) and Eric Lee (96th). During each of his last three seasons with the Falcons, he has seen his snap-counts break down similarly: about 75 percent of his work came against the pass, about 25 percent came against the run. He can defend the run. He's capable of it. He just hasn't been asked to consistently hold up on the edge on a down-in-down-out basis during the most recent phase of his career. 

THE FIT: Based on his history in Atlanta, it would make sense if the Patriots asked Clayborn to come off of the right edge in passing situations in 2018. That's where his recent experience has been. Keeping him away from the left side not only makes the most of where he's strongest, but it also keeps him from finding himself in coverage. As Belichick has explained in the past, the left end spot (Rob Ninkovich's old spot), going against right-handed quarterbacks, is typically asked to do more in coverage. The right edge has been Flowers' area in the recent past -- he played almost 65 percent of his passing-rush snaps last season off the right, per PFF -- but if the Patriots are fully-healthy up front, Flowers could kick inside to do his rushing. An ideal sub package for the Patriots, it could be argued, would have Clayborn on the right edge, Flowers and either Wise or Adam Butler on the interior, and Derek Rivers or Dont'a Hightower on the left edge. Rivers saw some work off the left side before suffering an injury in last year's training camp. Early last season, Hightower saw time on the left edge. 


Clayborn will have an opportunity to show he can do more than rush off the right side. He said on Wednesday that the Patriots have discussed multiple roles for him. (Perhaps he could rush from the interior, though he's not as long as Flowers or Wise, whose arms make them good matchups for stouter guards and tackles.) Wherever those opportunities come, Clayborn knows he'll have to make the most of them if he doesn't want to be pigeonholed. The deal for two years and $10 million he just signed in New England doesn't guarantee him myriad responsibilities.

"Whatever I can prove I can do,” he said. "I know I can rush the passer. I know I can set edge in the run. I mean, there’s a couple of different positions that they believe I can play, so it’s up to me to prove I can play them."


Ex-Patriot Ricky Jean-Francois signing with Lions

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Ex-Patriot Ricky Jean-Francois signing with Lions

Former Patriots defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois is signing with the Lions, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports.

The 31-year-old had six tackles in six games for the Patriots in 2017. He'll reunite with ex-Patriots defensive coordinator and now Lions head coach Matt Patricia in Detroit.