By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
New England Patriots right guard Shaq Mason is entering the final year of his rookie deal at an incredible value. The 2015 fourth-round pick is set to earn a $1.9 million base salary in 2018, despite coming off a season in which he emerged as one of the NFL's premier RGs.
While Mason may not earn record-breaking money for a right guard if and when he hits free agency in 2019, he could end up being the best guard available. And the deal that the Dallas Cowboys are set to hand guard Zack Martin is expected to set the bar as high as it's ever been at the position.
Martin has agreed to a six-year deal with the Cowboys that will make him the highest-paid guard with the most guaranteed money at the position in NFL history, as the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted on Monday. The exact terms of the deal aren't reported yet, but they're apparently going to top that of the Jaguars' Andrew Norwell, who signed a five-year extension with Jacksonville worth $13.3 million annually, with $30 million guaranteed. (UPDATE: Per Adam Schefter, the deal is for six years and $84 million, including $40 million guaranteed).
Big Payday Coming For Mason?
Jeff Howe of The Athletic recently posted an almost prophetic story about Mason and his impending contract situation, positing that the "floor" for the right guard should be around $9 million annually. Assuming Mason plays at the same level he did in 2017, or even improves, he could find a suitor willing to break the $10 million AAV mark with him.
That could ultimately price the Patriots out for Mason, who was one of the league's best run-blocking right guards in 2017. He still has room for improvement in pass protection, however, as evidenced by his glaring mistake late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII, which precipitated the Eagles' strip-sack of Tom Brady that virtually sealed the win.
But clearly, demand for offensive linemen only continues to rise. The Pats just drafted a guard (albeit with the potential to play left tackle) in the first round in Isaiah Wynn, and still have Joe Thuney and Ted Karras at the position. This could simply be a situation where Mason plays out the string then cashes in next March.
If Martin's deal with the Cowboys is any indication, Mason could be in position to seriously cash in with a new team.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].