The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ logo in 2023 should be a tank. They’re obviously in reboot mode, with the latest evidence being their decision to trade guard Shaq Mason to the Houston Texans.
The Texans, meanwhile, are acting like an NFL team that actually wants to win in 2023. In our grading of the Mason trade breakdown, we look at all angles of a swap between two very incomplete rosters.
Grading the Shaq Mason Trade From Buccaneers to Texans
Mason’s latest trade nearly comes on the one-year anniversary of his previous trade. He ended up being just a one-year rental for the Buccaneers, who acquired him from the Patriots in March 2022 for just a fifth-round pick.
Now, Mason’s on the move again, but the compensation terms are even lower now than they were then. NFL Media reported Tuesday that the Buccaneers are sending Mason and a seventh-round pick to Houston for a sixth-rounder.
The Texans inherit the final year of Mason’s contract, which is set to pay him $8.5 million in salary and bonuses.
Houston Texans Laying the Foundation
A typical NFL rebuild begins from the inside and moves outward. But the Texans, now three years into their extreme renovation, still need a talent infusion at all levels of their offense and defense.
Mason, who, per Pro Football Focus, allowed just one sack and committed just two penalties in 2022, joins an offensive line that this week also brought back center Scott Quessenberry for backup money. Mason becomes the third guard under contract by Houston in 2023, a list that includes A.J. Cann, who could be cut.
MORE: Houston Texans Free Agency Predictions
The Texans — assuming they don’t trade Laremy Tunsil — should be stout on the edges with Tunsil and Tytus Howard at left and right tackle, respectively. If you squint hard, you can see the outline of a solid offensive line, which the Texans need, since they’ve been non-participants in the quarterback market thus far and will probably be starting a rookie in 2023.
Mason’s salary is actually solid value for Houston. It would rank him 19th in AAV league-wise.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Poised for Terrible Season
There was a tweet yesterday from ESPN’s Dianna Russini that tells you everything you need to know about the Buccaneers’ plans to compete in 2023:
“The Tampa Bay Bucs have shown interest in both QB Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett, per sources.”
Those are, at best, Band-Aid starters. For good teams, they’re quality backups. But it’s not hard envisioning one of them starting Week 1 for Tampa. All they would need to do is beat out Kyle Trask in training camp.
MORE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Are of 2 Minds When It Comes to Kyle Trask
This is setting up to be a horrendous team — but that’s OK, if their vision is to tear down completely and vie for one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The sixth-round pick Tampa got in return won’t go a long way in ensuring they pick high next year. But the steady talent drain this offseason certainly will. Plus, Mason’s trade frees up $5 million in cap space, which helps the Buccaneers get their 2023 books in order.
Shaq Mason Is Richer Because of Trade
If the Buccaneers hadn’t found a team to take on Mason’s contract, they probably would have cut him. And if they cut him, there’s no guarantee that he would have earned that $8.5 million in base salary this year.
Unless he signs an extension with Houston (which certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility), look at the deal as Mason signing a one-year prove-it deal — that still pays him a healthy salary in the process.
And maybe he’ll help the Texans win some games in the process.