Losing Ali Marpet to retirement and Alex Cappa to free agency led to a changing of the guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On the eve of the 2022 league year, it led the organization to Shaq Mason.
The cruise that Mason was on has returned. The physical that was pending has been passed. And on Thursday, the 29-year-old right guard was introduced at the AdventHealth Training Center.
“When I heard about it, I was initially shocked because it wasn’t on my mind at all or anything like that,” Mason told reporters of the trade during his Buccaneers press conference. “But when I knew the destination, I instantly got excited because what better place to come to, or what better position to land in, than be with a contender? A high-powered offense, great defense, great staff — I mean, I feel like I landed in the perfect position.”
Mason had landed with New England at No. 131 overall back in May 2015. Once described by head coach Bill Belichick as being “probably ahead of every other player in the draft” from a run-blocking standpoint, the Georgia Tech All-American went on to start 98 games in the regular season and 12 games in the postseason.
A pair of Super Bowl rings were earned during his tenure. As was a five-year, $45 million contract extension through 2023 that included $23.5 million guaranteed.
Mason’s pact now continues alongside his past and present quarterback.
“When he first left, we stayed in touch,” Mason said of Tom Brady, whose retirement ended earlier in March after 40 days. “We stayed in touch when he won. Usually, all through the season, we’d send random texts back and forth, just chatting. And as soon as I got traded here, he also hit me up. Excited to go to work. Excited to be back together.”
While blocking for rookie quarterback Mac Jones last campaign, Mason ranked third on the New England offense with 86.5 percent of the snaps played. His 86.4 grade from Pro Football Focus ranked fourth around the league among qualifying guards.
One sack, three hits and 11 hurries were conceded in pass protection over that span by the triple-option product from Columbia, Tenn.
“I view myself as an athletic lineman,” Mason said of his skillset. “And as much as this offense is high-powered and it does a lot of things well, I feel like I can come in and put my abilities in place to help this offense succeed.”
Mason held his first press conference as a Buccaneer alongside former Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan, who agreed to terms after being released by the New York Giants last week.
“It’s a shock, but it’s definitely exciting to land in a spot like this with a winning organization and high-caliber standard,” added Mason. “I’m excited to be here.”