New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The New England Patriots will eventually have a big decision to make on Shaq Mason. But according to the right guard, who could be in for a big payday as a free agent, he’s only thinking about training camp. Publicly, anyway.

Mason recently told Kevin Duffy the Boston Herald that he is indeed interested in staying with the Patriots beyond the 2018 season. The right guard, who has emerged among the best young players at his position, would become a free agent in March 2019 if he and the Patriots didn’t agree to a deal.

He’s not holding out any time soon, but he’s not going to comment about the contract, either.

“Yes, I would [like to stay in New England],” Mason said. “But as far as all that goes, I don’t look ahead, honestly. I’m just worried about reporting to training camp July 25 and taking it from there.”

Jan 21, 2018, Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots guard Shaq Mason against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium. (Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

On the open market, Mason may not command a new contract that’s at the very top of the market – but he could get close. Cowboys guard Zack Martin just set the market with a six-year, $84 million extension with $40 million guaranteed. Mason could vie for the kind of deal the Jacksonville Jaguars handed to Andrew Norwell, who got five years and $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed. But at a minimum, he should be able to get a deal north of $8 million per season, which would put him in the top-15 in the league.

Mason will be especially key in the running game in 2018 and possibly beyond, with the Patriots apparently focused on a deep attack that includes 2018 first-round pick Sony Michel. James White and Rex Burkhead are still ahead in the pecking order, with Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill also vying for roster spots. Mason has become one of the best run-blocking guards in the NFL, and there’s no clear replacement if and when he’s out of the lineup this year or next.

A long-term deal with Mason before 2019 wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots extended an offensive lineman during the season, which they’ve recently done with Marcus Cannon. But it’d also be among the most expensive contracts Bill Belichick has given to the position.

The possibility is still very much there for Mason to stay with the Patriots beyond 2018, which is encouraging. But it could get to a point where he hits free agency and the Pats really have to pay up.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.


Click here for all Patriots updates from 98.5 The Sports Hub.