NFL Rumors: Alex Mack and TJ Ward to test free agency

Despite their 4-10 record the Browns have built a core to build around for the future, but this off season could see the departure of two key players via free agency. In Sunday’s version of “Hey, Mary Kay” Cleveland.com Browns’ beat writer Mary Kay Cabot suggests that both Alex Mack and TJ Ward are likely to test free agency and can expect to some big dollar offers on the open market.

“At this point, I think Mack and Ward will test the free agent market. I think both will command big dollars, but both would love to be back. I think the Browns will probably make offers, but both will most likely hit the jackpot elsewhere.” writes Cabot.

The Browns’ front office showed they weren’t afraid to spend some money last off season with the acquisitions of Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant, but how much they are willing to pay to retain their own players remains a mystery. Joe Banner is notorious for cutting ties with players earlier rather than later. He came under fire in Philadelphia after deciding to part ways with Eagles’ legend Brian Dawkins after Dawkins had given the Eagles 13 years of service, but Banner is a businessman so business always comes first.

While Dawkins was in the twilight of his career when Banner decided to part ways with him in Philly, Mack and Ward are coming into their primes as they complete their rookie contracts. The demand for a pro bowl center in Mack and a safety in Ward who received All-Pro consideration last year is surely to be high. Not to mention both have been healthy all of the 2013 season,.

[Related: Coordinators call out players for team’s shortcomings: Browns Notes]


  • Evan Walter

    Transition tag?

  • Brownie Elf

    Cabot went out on a limb with that one!

  • maxfnmloans

    Science rumor: Water is wet

  • Wow

    What a great beat reporter..

  • Chris McLafferty

    Hey Ryan Jones! This isn’t rumors. It’s one person’s opinion based on zero factual evidence or inside knowledge. This is exactly what’s wrong with journalism most specifically sports journalism.

  • whosevelt

    This is why it’s so funny that people think the Browns are “building the right way” or are “on the right track”. They are a 5-11 team right now, and they have a bunch of good draft picks, like all 5-11 teams do and like they’ve had for the last twelve years. They are also going to lose two of their “strong young core” players and have to use some of those draft picks on replacements. So explain to me, with the exception of Chudzinski’s demeanor, which we are supposed to like better than Shurmur’s, how are we better off now than we were a year, or two years, or three years, or four years, etc. ago?

  • woofersus

    I’ve decided to be a Browns beat reporter. I report that Mack and Ward will be free agents in the offseason. I deduce that from the fact that their contracts will end. I fearlessly predict that they will either be back or not, that the Browns will make some kind of offer, and that other teams will make some offers too. They may or may not be higher than what the Browns offer. As evidence I point to Joe Banner’s track record, in which he sometimes resigns players and sometimes does not. TRUTH.

  • Harv 21

    thank you. Saved me a comment.

  • saggy

    not bringing these guys back will set back the franchise a few years. unless there are other guys to spend on, they’ve gotta re-sign them. And the Browns painted themselves into a corner by not extending them earlier.

    I am ok with the front office doing it with “their guys” but not if it takes 6 years to get all of “their guys.” sooner or later (hopefully sooner) you’ve gotta take a stand with what you have. time’s a wasting….

  • Lunch

    I would also add a picture of a toilet to your statement, Chris. Just to remind others where most of the sports journalism related rumors and opinions comes from.

  • Woods

    Quick question. The Browns are under the salary cap for this year, which is one more game. Can they make an offer this week to extend Mack and Ward using this year’s cap dollars that are about to expire?

    Filling two additional holes at center and strong safety would be great to avoid.

  • Liberals have no morals

    They are 4-11 let them both walk. The defense stinks with Ward. The offensive line is a sieve with Mack. Replace them both. They stink with them so the worst they can do is stink without them. Let somebody else overpay these guys. It will change nothing. Out with the old losers and bring in some new cheaper ones. They can lose with a high payroll or get rid of them and lose with a low payroll. Face it. Until we get an owner who can get the right front office and coaches the Browns are going to be losers.

  • Liberals have no morals

    They are 4-11 with them. What is it going to set back. It can’t get much worse. Draft some new players.

  • Liberals have no morals

    I don’t get peoples thinking. They are 4-11 with these guys. How much worse can it get. 3-13. They suck with them. They can suck without them.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    I am 99% certain that this is not possible. I believe that ship sailed around September time frame…though I also think that you can extend (which affects only future dollars anyways) but can’t change the parameters of the rookie contract in this manner anyways.

  • Liberals have no morals

    We aren’t. They stink with these players. What’s the worst we can do without them. Stink. Let them walk. They aren’t close to being good enough yet to start paying guys big money.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    The defense stinks? So you think taking away one of our better guys in the secondary and replacing him with a rookie is going to help?

    And while the offensive line has issues, Mack and Joe Thomas aren’t the problems (more often than not. ) They are the two best players on the line. So getting rid of Mack is moronic. You are suggesting we actually actively get worse because we are already bad…and that is why you get downticked. It’s beyond stupid to suggest.

    Who are you going to replace the pro-bowl center with? Who are you going to replace Ward with? Especially since Safety is one of the hardest positions to fill right now in the NFL with quality talent.

  • Liberals have no morals

    You want to ignore they are 4-11 with them. Whats the worst they can do without them 3-13. Look up the defense points allowed. They suck. They are the 22 ranked defense in a 32 team league. They can pay these guys a lot and lose or they can get rid of them and pay a lot less to lose.

  • Robbie S

    If Cabot reports they are leaving, you better bet we’ll be seeing them in Browns jerseys next season!

  • Clint

    Col McCoy still needs to take us to the Super Bowl before I listen to anything else MKC says.
    For what it’s worth, I also think those guys want out of here. Is that news worthy? 😛

  • Clint

    They’re a 4-12 team. Haha. Shurmur did the same thing with far less talent.

  • Terminaltower

    The Squeelers are on their 3rd center and they seem to be doing ok. Why is it that we can never develop replacements?

  • Liberals have no morals

    They have year after year idiots doing the drafting

  • Ben Frambaugh

    There are 11 people on offense and 11 people on defense (on any given play.)
    There are 5 offensive lineman (minimum) on any given play.
    There are 4 guys in the defensive secondary minimum on almost every single play (goalline defense being the obvious exception.)
    That’s a lot of numbers to play with for something to go wrong. As for the 22nd ranked defense, does that take into account the number of scores that came from interception returns? Or from points given up because the offense turned the ball over deep in their own territory? Does that account for how tired the defense ends up getting by the 4th quarter because our offense is incapable of sustaining drives because our quarterbacks suck?
    There is SO much more to this than the obvious in your face numbers. But, judging by your internet handle (Liberals have no morals) expecting critical thinking from someone who clearly supports overgeneralization is an exercise in futility on my part.

  • Liberals have no morals

    Like i said before. They are 4-11 with them. It can’t get much worse without them. They suck with them and they will suck without them. It will be cheaper to suck without them. Doesn’t take much thinking to see this.

  • BenRM

    such a great post. I wish i could uptick more.

  • BenRM

    So let me get this straight – the Browns are 4-11? I couldn’t tell , but your posts seem to suggest it.

  • Same team

    Far less talent?

  • Liberals have no morals

    They suck. They can suck with them or they can suck without them. What the hell is the difference they suck either way.

  • Clint

    I’d take any QB we’ve started over McCoy (including Weeden). He only played to not look bad. That’s it.
    Greg Little was our #1 receiver…. everyone on defense is improved and most are entering their prime. Though, that’s obviously not really the main point of what I was saying.

  • woofersus

    I figure if I uptick your compliment of my post, it sort of counts for me too, so thanks for giving me that opportunity.

  • woofersus

    They’re 4-11 with Josh Gordon. Should we cut him? Worst that can happen is the passing game is worse, right? Joe Thomas hasn’t brought us a Lombardi trophy yet. It’s probably because he sucks. I mean, why not let everybody walk? If the team is bad, then all the players are probably equally bad with no differentiating factors besides the team’s overall record. Joe Haden isn’t good. Jordan Cameron isn’t good. Sheard, Taylor, Kruger. All terrible, right? This applies to other teams as well, I assume. Atlanta is 4-11, so perhaps they should get rid of Julio Jones in favor of a cheap rookie who will suck equally.

    One can logically argue whether or not a player is worth a specific amount, or whether or not that player can be part of an improved unit in the future, but to say the team is bad and therefore none of the players on it are worth keeping is beyond silly. Every NFL team has players that are good.

  • Liberals have no morals

    The rest of the team isn’t good enough to spend a lot of money on 2 pretty good players yet. If they spend a lot of money on these guys they will limit what they can do with the rest of the team. New England does this all the time. They let pretty good players go rather than spend a lot of money to keep them. If they spend a lot on them what will they do when they need to spend it on Gordon or Haden. Centers aren’t that hard to find. You can’t spend a lot of money there then not have money to keep the real playmakers. San Francisco let there pro bowl saftey go last year and didn’t miss a beat. They have to draft better