David Mayo took full advantage in 2019 of his first real opportunity to play in five NFL seasons, starting 13 games for the New York Giants and compiling 82 tackles and 2 sacks. Mayo became a steady, reliable player on a defense was in total anything but steady or reliable.
With a new head coach and defensive coordinator in place, will Mayo get the same opportunity in 2020? Or, will he be back to a role as a backup linebacker and primary special teams player?
Let’s take a closer look.
Age: 27 in August
Position: Inside linebacker
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $8.4 million deal | Guaranteed: $3.5 million
How he got here
A fifth-round pick by Dave Gettleman with the Carolina Panthers in 2015, Mayo was the odd man out in a talented linebacker corps during four seasons there, starting only four games. After a preseason stint with the San Francisco 49ers in 2019, the Giants claimed him on waivers before the start of the regular season.
Mayo ended up stepping into the starting lineup after Tae Davis flopped and Ryan Connelly was lost for the season due to injury. He signed a three-year, $8.4 million free agent contract to return to the Giants during the offseason.
If the Giants had a game to play on Sunday I would pencil Mayo in as the starter at inside linebacker next to Blake Martinez. And, I do mean “pencil.”
At this point we have no idea how healthy Connelly will be after tearing his ACL. If both players are healthy it’s impossible to know how the new coaching staff will evaluate them. Or, if they might end up preferring the length and athleticism of sixth-round pick Cam Brown. Or, if perhaps seventh-round picks Tae Crowder or T.J. Brunson might surprise and win the job. Or, if perhaps Patrick Graham prefers to keep Julian Love on the field in a three-safety look — maybe with Jabrill Peppers at times filling a linebacker role.
The only thing I know for certain is that Mayo is a good player to have on the roster. He can play special teams. He’s smart, and can fill in when needed without significant practice reps. He’s solid in run defense, as attested to by team-best 90.1 run defense grade and 37 run stops, per Pro Football Focus.