TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to give Tom Brady everything he needs to compete for another championship.
Free agent receiver Russell Gage and guard Shaq Mason, acquired in a trade from the New England Patriots on Friday, are the latest additions to a revamped roster that’s taken form since Brady ended his brief retirement.
Gage, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons, signed a three-year, $30 million contract and is expected to become Tampa Bay’s No. 3 receiver behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Mason, obtained for a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, joins the Bucs after playing seven seasons in New England. He was part of two of the six Super Bowl titles Brady won with the Patriots.
Gage started 21 of 61 games he appeared in with Atlanta after entering the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2018. He had 66 receptions for 770 yards and four touchdowns in 2021, with 50 of those catches for 661 yards and three TDs coming over the final eight games.
He was weighing his options in free agency when got a phone call this week from Brady, who helped sell him on signing with the Bucs.
“Definitely caught me off guard. ... For a minute I thought it was a prank. He just told me about what they have here in Tampa By and he wanted me to be a part of it,” Gage said. “Honestly, he didn’t have to say much. But he definitely had me hooked after that.”
Gage, who has 193 receptions for 2,065 yards and nine TDs, is also excited about playing with Evans and Godwin, who he’s followed closely as division rivals.
“As a receiver, you watch guys and you try to learn things,” Gage said. “I’ve always admired he way they jell together as teammates, as players.”
Mason, meanwhile, addresses one of two openings on the offensive line created by the unexpected retirement of Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet and loss of the team’s other starting guard, Alex Cappa, in free agency.
The eighth-year pro appeared in 103 regular-season games with New England. He’s also started all 13 playoff games he’s played in his career.
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