Mayo reportedly agreed to a five-year contract extension Saturday. Mayo’s five-year rookie deal was set to expire after the 2012 season, and if his new contract begins in 2013, he’ll be under contract through 2017, which would keep him with the Patriots for the first 10 seasons of his NFL career.
Mayo has been a captain for the last three seasons, and his leadership has been one of his most redeeming qualities in Belichick’s eyes. Mayo does everything that could be asked of a captain — working diligently, expecting the same from his teammates, watching over the locker room, leading the defense on the field and behind the scenes and answering to the criticism from the outside.
He has also shown an intense willingness to play through pain, coming back early from a knee injury in 2009 and doing the same again this season. Mayo only missed two games with an MCL injury earlier this season, but he still hasn’t fully recovered, telling NESN.com on Friday that “it’s getting better.”
Mayo also dealt with a calf cramp during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s victory against the Redskins, but he never left the field. Ultimately, he made a diving play to record the game-sealing interception in the shadow of the goal line before having to get carried off the field.
That’s where it’s most important — Mayo gets it done on the field. He has led the Patriots in tackles during his first three seasons, including an NFL-best 193 stops in 2010, and he’s setting the pace in New England again this season. Mayo also has the first two interceptions of his career in the last two weeks, and he has forced a fumble.
The 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year and 2010 All-Pro has emerged as one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL, both because of his tackling ability and his instincts. Belichick has praised Mayo for the statistics that he hasn’t accumulated, as the linebacker’s pursuit to the ball has shut down running lanes and allowed his teammates to make plays, too.
That’s part of what has made Mayo a special player who was deserving of an early contract extension. His contributions aren’t always noticeable, whether it’s on the field or behind the scenes.
Saturday’s news ensures it’ll continue to happen for another half decade.