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Devin McCourty “can’t imagine” playing without Jerod Mayo

Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes

Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes

Steven Senne

After ending the last three seasons on injured reserve, linebacker Jerod Mayo faced a choice about whether he wanted to continue playing in 2016.

Mayo announced that decision on Tuesday via Instagram with a post about retiring as a member of the Patriots after eight years with the team. That decision may have been helped along by the likelihood that the Patriots would be moving on without him because of a cap hit of more than $11 million, but Mayo’s teammates weren’t thinking about the financial ramifications of his departure when they responded to the news on social media.

Safety Devin McCourty said he “can’t imagine” playing without Mayo, who he calls one of the greatest Patriots, and “can’t thank him enough” for his help over the years. Defensive end Chandler Jones said he was “honored” to play alongside Mayo in a post hashtagged “legend,” which was also a word that wide receiver Julian Edelman used to describe Mayo.

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork left New England for Houston before last season, but played seven years with Mayo and penned a long tribute to him that had as much to do with their friendship off the field than Mayo’s accomplishments on it. There was a lot of that going around on Tuesday and there will likely be further celebrations of Mayo’s time with the Patriots in the coming days.