With the NFL’s free agency period set to kick off in less than five days, it appears that the one-year, $10 million transition tag handed to Alex Mack by the Cleveland Browns is merely a placeholder. In an interview with USA TODAY, Mack and his representatives made it very clear that, while they enjoy Cleveland and have faith in the front office, they fully plan on testing the free agent waters in hopes of netting a long-term contract offer.
“I like where my future is going. Mr. Haslam, he’s a really good owner. I got a really good feeling about him. He’s a direct person who knows what he wants to do. There’s something to be said of that. It’s now a clean slate. […]
“[The transition tag] is their right. I have to weigh that into any potential decision. But I walked away from our meeting with the feeling it was a good meeting. Without a doubt, it’s not a bad thing to return to the Browns.
“We’ll see what happens. It’s tough to know. I don’t know how teams feel about me. I still have an opportunity to meet with coaches and experience free agency. That’s the goal. I like Cleveland; I know it. I like these new coaches. But there are other opportunities out there. You only get to play this game so long. Let’s see what else is out there.”
The benchmark for any deal Mack and his team would entertain was set by Philadelphia who inked Jason Kelce to a six-year, $37.5 million contract extension.
For the Browns to give Mack the transition tag rather than the franchise tag, they would have to be very certain in their abilities and willingness to match any offer the Pro Bowl center would receive. In the event another team offers Mack a contract that the Browns do not match, the team would get nothing in return—a franchise tag, while costing an additional $1.5 million, would at least have netted two draft selections.
Mack was rumored to be the No. 1 priority of Ray Farmer and the newly formed front office. The Browns, entering free agency, will have roughly $50 million at their disposal.
Image: Larry French/Getty Images North America