Some key names appear on the Patriots‘ 2019 prospective UFA list. Among them are Trey Flowers, Chris Hogan, Malcom Brown and now Danny Shelton. But a mainstay on the offensive line is entering his Pats walk year as well, and given what’s happened to the guard market the past two Marches, Shaq Mason can expect to see a number of offers if he reaches the market. However, the fourth-year guard would prefer to stay in New England, Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald notes. If an extension isn’t reached this offseason, Duffy recalls the Pats’ past Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon re-ups, Cannon’s most recent one having occurred in November 2016.
A 2015 fourth-round pick, Mason is only entering his age-25 season. The Pats have traded away key players in recent years and let others, like Solder, walk in free agency. But Mason (No. 9 among guards last season, per Pro Football Focus) might be a cornerstone talent the team will want protecting Tom Brady‘s to-be-determined successor rather than joining Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Dion Lewis or Malcolm Butler among Patriots discoveries deemed non-essential to the future. It would almost certainly cost the Patriots eight figures per year to retain Mason, but Solder being off the books opens up a high-salary offensive line spot on the Pats’ payroll.
Here’s the latest out of the AFC East:
- The incident involving LeSean McCoy‘s ex-girlfriend has the Bills running back in some potentially big trouble, and Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle writes there’s probably a good chance McCoy does not join his teammates at training camp and instead lands on the commissioner’s exempt list. An NFL investigation represents sufficient grounds for the 30-year-old back to be placed on the exempt list. While Chris Ivory provides the Bills with a proven backup, he’s averaged fewer than four yards per carry in each of the past two seasons and did so on fewer than 120 totes in either Jaguars campaign. The Bills are believed to be interested in former Charger Branden Oliver, but McCoy’s absence would be noticeable if that indeed happens.
- After allowing Austin Seferian-Jenkins to defect to the Jags, the Jets boast an interesting tight end contingent. Waiver claim Clive Walford, former UDFA Eric Tomlinson (eight career receptions, second-most among current Jets TEs behind Walford), 2017 fifth-round Jordan Leggett and rookie fourth-rounder Chris Herndon are vying to start. Leggett’s extra year of NFL seasoning, despite having yet to play in a regular-season game, will likely be enough for him to hold off Herndon for this job, Darryl Slater of NJ.com writes. Herndon’s availability also could be in question after a recent DUI arrest, however.
- Frank Gore is pumped up about returning to a team that uses a grass surface and believes signing with the Dolphins could prolong his already-lengthy career.
- Is Rob Gronkowski still on the trade block? Some execs believe he is.