A premier guard is on the move.
The Patriots are trading veteran offensive lineman Shaq Mason to the Buccaneers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in April's draft, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Mike Giardi reported Tuesday. The Buccaneers will assume the final two years of Mason's existing contract for a total of $16 million.
The swap won't become official until the new league year kicks off on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
Mason ranked as the fourth-best guard in all of football in 2021, per Pro Football Focus, and he's maintained a stellar level of play dating back to the 2016 season. Mason signed a five-year, $45 million extension with the Patriots in 2018 and has lived up to the expectation set by the deal. Now, he'll play with a familiar face in Tom Brady.
Mason spent the first five years of his NFL career protecting Brady in New England and will join his old teammate in Tampa, filling one of two voids left by the departure of both of the Buccaneers' starting guards this offseason (Ali Marpet retired; Alex Cappa is signing with the Bengals). Mason will play alongside the one interior lineman Tampa was able to keep, center Ryan Jensen, and will be tasked with replicating his performance for a team that again expects to contend for the Super Bowl following Brady's decision to end his fairly brief retirement.
Chasing Super Bowls with Brady is very familiar to Mason. The guard won two Lombardi Trophies while sharing the field with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer in New England.
Now, he'll be expected to do the same in Tampa. For the meager price of a fifth-round pick and a remaining cap hit of just $10.1 million in 2022 -- a number that decreases further to $8.875 million in 2023 -- the Buccaneers wisely upgraded up front.