Mason was a key part of the offensive line that was tasked with protecting Mac Jones. After being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Mason played in 103 games for the Patriots and won two Super Bowls.
The details of the trade were even more puzzling. New England sent Mason to Tampa Bay in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
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“Maybe New England really wanted to help out ol’ pal Tom Brady, but this was not fair compensation for a starting-caliber guard,” writes Bleacher Reports Kristopher Knox. “What makes the decision worse is the hole it created in New England’s line. The Patriots may have filled it by reaching for Chattanooga interior lineman Cole Strange (scouting report) with the 29th pick, but they got poor value in that deal too (which we’ll dive into shortly).
“Strange may pan out for New England, but he’s unproven, and the switch from Mason to Strange won’t provide overwhelming cap savings. Based on the rookie cap hit of last year’s 29th pick, Eric Stokes, New England’s gamble will save roughly $5.2 million. That’s not enough for a team with playoff aspirations to part with a proven starter—especially while also losing center Ted Karras in free agency—while getting little in return.”
Protecting Mac Jones
The move to trade Mason was even more confusing considering who New England has under center. Jones is entering the second year of his NFL career and will be hoping to build off his performance in 2021. In his rookie year, Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Along with the departure of Mason, Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left the organization to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Some level of consistency would have been nice for Jones entering his second season but Jones will have to adjust to some new players and coaches on the team.
In Strange They Trust
After Mason’s move, the Patriots will be putting a lot of faith in Strange. The first-round pick will have the opportunity to start in his rookie season.
That’s asking a lot out of a player who played at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga against less than stellar talent. At 23 years old, Strange is older than most rookies so they will be banking on his experience.
Knox wasn’t a fan of the pick.
“Strange might become a perennial All-Pro, but this was simply bad value all around for the Patriots,” he said.
Also, some experts aren’t excited about the Patriots draft pick.
“At the very least, it feels like the Patriots misread the market and could have moved down again for additional picks while still drafting Strange on Day 2,” Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic wrote.
The Patriots are being ripped for multiple moves they made this offseason but that won’t matter if the team performs well once the 2022 regular season begins.