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Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt

Billy Wyatt is a New England Patriots beat reporter for CLNS Radio. Now covering the Patriots for multiple seasons, Billy is a veteran journalist at CLNSRadio.com A graduate of the University of Hartford with a communications degree, Billy’s prior experience was as a sports writer for the Hartford Informer.You can reach Billy via e-mail at bwyatt_91@yahoo.com. And you can follow him on Twitter @Billy_NFL.

Since being drafted 10th overall by the Patriots in the 2008 NFL Draft, linebacker Jerod Mayo has been a mainstay in the defense. Prior to last season, Mayo had missed only five games in his NFL career. After suffering a torn pectoral muscle in week six last season he missed the team’s final 10 games. Yesterday in Buffalo Mayo suffered a knee which the severity is not yet known.

According to overthecap.com, Mayo already has the second highest cap number on the Patriots this season, about $7.3 million. His contract currently places him at the second highest contract of 93 inside linebackers.  Over the next three seasons his cap numbers are going to be $10.6 million in 2015, $10.4 million in 2016, and $9.5 million in 2017. It was probably unlikely he would have seen those numbers to begin with, especially with how New England does business. Due to those large cap hits for a running game linebacker Bill Belichick would most likely have approached Mayo about a salary restructure.

After missing much of the 2013 season and what now looks like most of, if not the rest of the 2014 campaign, it is fair to wonder whether Mayo has played his final snap with the only organization that he has ever known. He may have been inline for a pay cut but now after suffering major injuries in each of the last two seasons the Patriots may be looking to move on.

If the Patriots elect to move on from the defensive leader they would be better off cutting Mayo with a post June 1st designation. A post June 1st designation would leave the Patriots with $3.6 million and $2.4 million in dead money charges in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. But, that would free up $7 million and $8 million in cap space during those seasons.

Whether Mayo would be willing to rework his contract or whether New England would be willing to go down that road remains to be seen. But something about those large cap numbers has to be done if not this offseason, then next offseason. Mayo will be 29 next season and also coming off major injuries in back to back seasons. Keeping older players at large cap numbers isn’t how the Patriots do business, especially coming off injuries.

Several key players on New England’s roster will also be seeing their contracts expire in the next couple seasons. Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Darrelle Revis, Nate Solder, Chanlder Jones, and Don’t’a Hightower will all be seeing their current contracts expire at the end of this season or next season. Obviously, it is unlikely that all of the players are retained. But it is within the realm of possibility that the Patriots trim salary from other places on their roster in order to keep some of these players. The cap savings of a possible Mayo release could be used to help retain some of these players if New England chooses.

Your guess is a good as mine as to where the money will be spent. But as the NFL becomes more and more pass oriented, is it worth paying a running game linebacker north of $10 million. That is a question that Belichick and Robert Kraft will have to figure out this spring. Is it worth cutting loose a key member of your defense in order to keep some other impact players around? We will find out the answer to that question in the offseason. For now, we still await to hear about the severity of Mayo’s knee injury.

For more on the injuries to both Mayo and Ridley stay with clnsradio.com

The New England Patriots went into Orchard Park and escaped with a 37-22 victory over their divisional rival the Buffalo Bills (3-3). In doing so, the Patriots (4-2) claimed first place in the AFC East.

It wasn’t a pretty game for New England. There were times when the offense looked like the much improved offense we saw in last week’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. But, there were also times where the offense looked like it had through the first four weeks of the season. A win is a win though.

The offensive line continues to be an issue with New England. From left to right the offensive line was comprised of Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Josh Kline, and Sebastian Vollmer. With rookie interior lineman Bryan Stork out this week the offensive front had to be shaken up again. The shuffling continued when Connolly left with a head injury in the first half. The lack of cohesion upfront looks like it will continue to be a lingering problem for the Patriots all season.

On the bright side, tight end Rob Gronkowski had a nice homecoming to Buffalo with 94 yards receiving, much of that yardage coming on plays the offense needed to have. Tom Brady also looks like he may be climbing out of his funk with four passing TDs and 361 yards through the air. Brandon LaFell looks more and more comfortable in the offense as he added 97 yards and two TDs of his own.

On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Darrelle Revis shut down Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, who only had two catches. Hybrid defensive lineman/linebacker Rob Ninkovich had three sacks of former his former college teammate Kyle Orton.

Three key players did leave the game due to injury, running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo joined Connolly on the sidelines with injuries. With a short week coming up their situations will want to be monitored.

Next up for the Patriots, the New York Jets (1-5) come to Foxboro on Thursday night.

For more on today’s game, check out the postgame show.

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