New England Patriots Trade Grades: Winovich a win; Mason confusion

Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots guard Shaq Mason (69) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Patriots Trade No. 2:

On the other hand, the Patriots trading their starting right guard, Shaq Mason, away for a fifth round pick isn’t as straight forward. Mason is one of the best guards in the NFL, and had two years remaining on a relatively team friendly deal. Yet Belichick could only muster a fifth round pick in return for the talened offensive lineman.

It’s clear that this move was made for salary cap purposes. It’s no secret the Patriots are short on cap space, and trading Mason away saves the Patriots $6.3 million on the cap. I’m not saying that’s a completely logical reason to trade away arguably your top offensive lineman for just a fifth round pick, but unless there’s something we aren’t privy to, that’s the thinking of the front office right now.

The lack of value in return for Mason implies that the Patriots were probably intending on getting rid of Mason’s contract one way or another, which isn’t a total surprise. I wrote earlier about how Mason could end up being a cap casualty this offseason, and while he wasn’t released, the terms of this trade pretty much make Mason a cap casualty.

While clearing cap space is important, this is a highly questionnable move. Trading Mason away ensures the Pats will lose two of their top linemen this offseason (they also lost Ted Karras, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals), and that’s not even accounting for Trent Brown, who is still a free agent. There doesn’t really appear to be a clear cut replacement on the roster, meaning even if Brown returns, the Pats are going to be looking for another o-lineman this this offseason.

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Clearing up cap space helps, but you cannot ignore the minimal return the Pats got for Mason here. A fifth round pick is just not an equal return for one of the premier guards in the league, who is on a team-friendly contract for two more seasons. With no clear succession plan, New England now is going to have to find a way to replace Mason, and I guarantee you his replacement won’t be coming through the fifth round pick the team picked up in return for him.