TAMPA — The Bucs’ newest offensive offensive lineman appreciates the irony embedded in his full name.
At only 6-foot-1, veteran guard Shaquille Olajuwon Mason — acquired from the Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick — is shorter than each of Tampa Bay’s 2021 starting offensive linemen by at least 3 inches.
“So I was named after Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon who ... were two giant centers, and I’m a short offensive lineman,” Mason, 28, joked Thursday in his first public appearance as a Bucs player. “I didn’t get that from my namesakes, but I think everything worked out well.”
Mason, 28, becomes only the second current Bucs player to be named after the two NBA icons. From a spelling standpoint, edge rusher Shaquil Akeem Barrett’s name doesn’t precisely jibe with the first names of O’Neal and Olajuwon, though the latter initially spelled his first name Akeem upon his arrival to the University of Houston in the early 1980s.
“I embrace (the name),” Mason said. “It’s me.”
The son (naturally) of an NBA-loving mom, Mason starred at Georgia Tech in former coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack before being drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round in 2015. He spent five seasons securing the interior rush lanes for consummate pocket passer Tom Brady, and has totaled 98 regular-season starts the past seven years.
“When I heard about (the trade), I was initially shocked because it wasn’t on my mind at all or anything like that,” Mason said.
“But when I knew the destination, I instantly got excited because what better place to come to, what better position to land in than be able to (come to) a contender, a great high-powered offense, great defense, great staff. I feel like I landed at the perfect position.”
Going for two ... and 10
Shortly after signing a one-year deal reportedly worth $4.5 million, Bucs defensive lineman William Gholston said he’ll embark on his 10th season in Tampa Bay with a hearty amount of figurative tread remaining.
“It’s been 10 years, but I don’t feel like it in my body,” said Gholston, the second-longest tenured active Buc behind Lavonte David. “Listening to some other guys who have played 10 years and some older vets and some guys who are retired, I don’t feel the way that they said that they felt. I think it’s a blessing, so let the wheels fall off basically.”
A fourth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2013, Gholston, 30, is coming off a resurgent season in which he totaled a career-high 4.5 sacks, and appeared in 44 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme. On Thursday, the married dad of three boys indicated the goal is to remain in Tampa Bay for his entire NFL career and longer.
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“Oh no doubt. I don’t see any other place to raise my family,” said Gholston, a Detroit native.
“I feel like the community, the place, the people, just the environment is a nice enough place to say, ‘Okay, I can raise a family here.’ It’s not too fast, not too slow. You seldom see anybody with too much aggression walking down the street, just from how I grew up.
“I don’t want my kids to have to see the things I had to see when I was younger, so Tampa’s the place to be.”
Bucs sign Breshad Perriman
The Bucs officially signed receiver Breshad Perriman to a one-year contract.
Perriman, 28, joined the practice squad in November after Antonio Brown injured his ankle. It was his fourth team since 2020, a list that included the Jets, Lions and Bears. Perriman turned in one of the biggest plays of the year with a walk-off, game-winning 58-yard touchdown reception in overtime to beat Buffalo.
Perriman’s contract is for the veteran minimum of $1.12 million plus a $152,500 bonus.
Odds and ends
New Bucs safety Logan Ryan, a New Jersey native who played at Rutgers, figures to blend in seamlessly with his new franchise. Cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross was born in Camden, N.J., and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (also a New Jersey native) has a son (Todd Jr.) who plays at Rutgers. “I grew up not far from Temple University, where all the (Bucs) coaches worked at,” Ryan added. “I was at those Temple camps as an eighth-grader, ninth-grader, trying to get a scholarship at every position.” ... Gholston becomes the first of several free agents on the defensive front to re-up with Tampa Bay. Still unsigned are 36-year-old Steve McLendon, 35-year-old Ndamukong Suh and 28-year-old Pat O’Connor. Whether the team wishes to retain all three remains unclear. “I’ve been texting those guys,” Gholston said. “So hopefully they see this. Come on back, fellas. Let’s run this thing.”
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.
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