One of Tom Brady‘s Patriots blockers is set to fill one of the Buccaneers’ open spots at guard. The Pats are trading Shaq Mason to the Bucs, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report (via Twitter).
Two years remain on Mason’s contract, which contains base salaries of just $6.5MM and $7.5MM. Mason has been with New England throughout his career; he was a starter on the final three Pats teams Brady piloted to the Super Bowl.
The compensation is similar to the Bucs-Pats’ Rob Gronkowski transaction two years ago. Tampa Bay sent a fourth to New England for Gronk, reuniting him with Brady. After a retirement that did not even last two months, Brady’s return appears to have keyed some aggressive Bucs maneuvers. Ryan Jensen is back at center, and the team is re-signing top cornerback Carlton Davis. It should be expected Gronk will return as well.
Tampa Bay has seen its guard tandem of the past four years — Ali Marpet–Alex Cappa — splinter, with Marpet retiring and Cappa committing to the Bengals. Mason has been regarded as one of the league’s better guards, making this compensation appear rather light given the low salaries tied to his deal.
A fourth-round pick in 2015, Mason moved into the Patriots’ starting lineup quickly. He started 98 games for the Pats over the past seven seasons. Mason signed a five-year, $45MM extension with the Pats in 2018. Given where the guard market has gone, that deal looks team-friendly now. It would not surprise if the Bucs addressed the contract at some point. This will be Mason’s age-29 season; his age-28 campaign ended with Pro Football Focus grading him fourth overall among guards.
The Pats have now seen their longtime Mason-Joe Thuney guard duo disband, with Thuney defecting to the Chiefs in March 2021. The two played together for five seasons. New England will create just more than $7MM in cap space by trading Mason. Trent Brown, New England’s right tackle in 2021, is also unattached presently. Michael Onwenu would make sense as a starter in 2022, given the departures of Mason and Ted Karras (Bengals). But the Pats have work to do up front.