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Pats' Jerod Mayo announces retirement on Instagram

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Jerod Mayo, a leader of the Patriots defense since he was drafted in 2008, announced Tuesday that he's chosen to retire.

Mayo, who made two Pro Bowls and won the 2008 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, said in the message that he's "RETIRING A PATRIOT."

It is not surprising that his time with the team is coming to an end, but his retirement one week before his 30th birthday was not expected. Then again, Mayo has struggled to stay healthy for years. He tore his pectoral muscle in 2013, tore his patellar tendon in 2014 and injured his shoulder as a part-time player in 2015.

"After a lot of thought Chantel and I take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for what we consider a life changing event ... that of becoming a New England Patriot for the past 8 years," Mayo wrote. "We are extremely grateful to "Thundercat," Jonathan, the Kraft family, Coach Belichick, the Pats organization, and the most amazing fans in contributing to these pages of our lives. As my family and I prepare for the future, be sure that the Pats memories will always hold a special place in our hearts."

It is fitting that Mayo retires without changing teams. A surprise choice as the 10th pick of the 2008 draft, Mayo immediately stepped in and looked like a lifetime Patriot at inside linebacker. This came at a time when Bill Belichick was struggling to hit on draft picks, especially in the front seven. Belichick quickly lauded Mayo as a leader and one of the smartest players he ever drafted.

Mayo's body just didn't hold up. Injuries limited his effectiveness in 2009, but he put it all together for a first-team All Pro season in 2010. He signed a big contract late in 2011 with $25 million guaranteed, but ultimately was supplanted by Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins as the best players of the team's defense.

"Mentor, teammate, friend....honored to have played next to you," Jones wrote on Twitter.

It would not be a surprise if Mayo continued a career in football. Hightower, for one, said Mayo could be the team's "defensive coordinator right now."

The Patriots will save $7 million in cap space following Mayo's retirement, with $4.4 million in dead money still on the books.

A photo posted by Jerod Mayo (@jerod_mayo51) on

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