Alex Mack has a few questions for the Browns front office



Alex Mack is open to discussing a long-term deal with the Cleveland Browns, but he has a few questions to ask before any pen is put to paper. The rub? Mack won’t negotiate with the Browns until he returns from a humanitarian trip to Brazil at the end of the month.

From ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi:

Negotiations aimed at keeping Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack off the free agent market won’t begin until Mack returns from a humanitarian trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the end of the month, his agent told ESPN Cleveland.

That will leave the Browns less than two weeks to get a deal done before the start of free agency on March 11. […]

“If you’re looking at this from an intelligent point of view, there’s more to it than money,” said Marv Demoff. “You have to believe in what you’re doing. I want Alex first to be able to sign off and say I’m fine with all the changes and where they’re headed.

“The thing that Cleveland has most going for it is Alex really wants to play in a place where football is really important. He’s loved that about Cleveland. And he’s always been excited about being a part of building something that eventually wins. There has just been false starts and stops in Cleveland.”

The Browns have reportedly engaged in multiple contract discussions with Mack, easily one of the best free agents who could test waters come March, but sides could not arrive at a dollar figure and were off by a year on length—the Browns wanted a five-year contract; Mack initially wanted three years and then agreed to four. They reportedly agreed to revisit negotiations in January, but these plans were put on hold when the Browns front office abruptly changed coaches and, later, the entire mangement structure.

That Mack appreciates Cleveland (and playing along side a sure-fire Hall of Famer in Joe Thomas) is a great start, but the chances of getting a hometwon discount at this point would seem remote given the player’s talent level and considerable dysfunction that has permeated from the top—he’s lost his position coach of five years in George Warhop and also liked Rob Chudzinski. Mack is saying all of the right things, and appears to value the fan support, but he also holds many of the negotiating cards.

Grossi reported earlier this week that the Browns were going to persue impending free agents Mack and safety TJ Ward. Ray Farmer has roughly three weeks to tackle his first task, perhaps even less considering Mack’s self-made window.

Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY

  • MrCleaveland

    “That will leave the Browns less than two weeks to get a deal done . . .”

    That should be PLENTY of time. Do it. Just do it.

    Also, the Browns wanted a five-year deal, and Mack wanted a three-year deal. So Mack compromised at four years. Take it, Browns. It’s called negotiation. He gave a little, so you have to give a little.

    Besides, nobody knows what anything is going to be like in five years. Don’t outsmart yourself, Ray. If Mack wants four, give him four. It would be foolish to let this be a point of contention or, God forbid, a deal breaker.

  • Mack is just being smart. He knows that for the Browns, Ward is the smarter play for the franchise tag. Meaning, there’s no incentive for Mack to sign unless he gets the deal he wants. It’s all leverage here. “Here’s what I want, you have two weeks. GO!”

    Of course, if Ward signs a long-term deal then Mack may have to play under the franchise tag, which isn’t bad based on the number he’d get, just less secure.

  • mgbode

    I do think it is totally fair that Mack wants to speak with the new coaching staff and newly appointed FO. It could be a ploy by his agent to delay while still garnering goodwill from the fans, but it’s smart either way.

    I hope we sign him to a reasonable deal (and reasonable is a top5 contract for a center). 4year deal seems good to me.

  • LesFleursDuMal

    How would Mack fare in Shannahan’s zone blocking scheme? He’s a smaller center who uses leverage amazingly well but I just dont know enough about zone blocking to know if this translates. I would think so but Im certainly no expert…

  • mgbode

    Mack can play in just about any system. He has a great first step (most essential part of the zone-block scheme) and utilizes his hands well. The real question would be the OL calls as they are completely different and even more important in a zone-blocking scheme. He is reportedly very smart and went to Cal, but without being in the film room, it’s tough to know for certain how quickly he’d pick it up. I’ll gladly take my chances he can do it.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Right. Between the one-year salary bump and the year to figure out where this FO is going with this, it’s not the worst thing for him to get franchised, so he’s perfectly happy letting them go after Ward first.

  • Garry_Owen

    Yes. At this point, the Browns should just go to Mack/Demoff and say, “You win. We want you here, and we’re committed to making this work. We’ll pay what you’re asking, for 4 years.”

  • Harv 21

    ” …he’s lost his position coach of five years in George Warhop and also liked Rob Chudzinski.”

    Don’t blame Mack one bit. In relatively few seasons he’s already been through a martinet like Mangini, a boob like Shurmur and a guy he liked in Chud, with the systems constantly changing and the team always losing. He’s a good and reliable player, but every NFL body has a finite number of snaps in it. He has every right to ask whether what’s going on now is a real plan or just the latest iteration of Haslam’s learning curve.

  • Natedawg86

    why would he want 4 instead of 5? His market now is probably the highest it will ever be

  • JohnInLakewood

    the fact that they let it get to this point with Mack, who may now be the highest paid free agent at any position this off season is just more evidence of the epic fail that was Banner/Lombardi, and by extension Haslam. Also goo comments below by Ezzie Goldish about leverage and the franchise tag. If they want the leverage of being able to franchise Mack, sign Ward now.

  • RGB

    Sign him post haste.
    You only get one chance to make a first impression.
    Farmer, I’m looking at you…

  • Toddyus

    My guess is the Browns will want to frontload his deal while they have the money and to preserve future cap space. In that light, a 5th year probably doesn’t pay much.

  • Hopwin

    I don’t care what you posted. I liked your post because of your avatar.

  • Harv 21

    Craig and others have mentioned this. I agree – Mack seems almost a prototype guy for zone blocking scheme. And everyone from Joe Thomas on down say he’s godawful smart. And maybe that good fit it’s another thing he’s leveraging right now in contract talks.

    It’s been so long since he’s missed a game I don’t even know who his back-up is … Greco?

  • mgbode

    Yes, Greco is the backup center. And, it’s not like he’s had an appendectomy and managed to suit up the next week or anything. oh wait, nevermind.

  • Bob

    not yet mentioned: from Mack’s point of view, a 4 year deal gives him a chance to jump to another organisation with one more season of playing time on the other side of his career if the Browns of 2014-2017 bear any resemblance to the Browns of ’99, ’00, ’01, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, or ’13.