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Alex Mack ready to test free agent waters

Alex Mack

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

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  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Do I really look like a guy with a plan?

  • Steve_Not_Chad

    /shrugs

  • Hopwin

    He must really want out to continue talking to other teams.

  • woofersus

    Well, the browns have demonstrated their commitment to matching any offer he gets via the transition tag, so it’s on him now to get some offers. Not sure this could go down any other way at this point.

  • Harv 21

    as I understand it, he can solicit other long-term deals now but not sign, play this year at the transition price of left tackle money, then force the Browns’ hand again next year, hoping his agent can negotiate something elsewhere the Browns cannot match when they have less cap space. And in the mean time he will have been paid for more than any other center.

    He’s obviously a smart guy who is not happy about losing his position coach, Norv or Chud. Another year here will buy him time to decide whether this is where he wants to play out his prime years. Good for him. I wonder whether the possibility of creating a gaping hole at center was even discussed when Banner/Haslam put Chud’s head on the block as soon as the season ended. Based on all his quotes, guessing Mack would be signed already if they had given Chud another year.

  • woofersus

    I thought it was more of a NBA RFA situation, where the browns have the right to match any offer if they want, OR he can sign the $10 million, one year tender, at which point they can still work out a long term deal or he can play the year for top-flight left tackle money and be a FA again.

  • mgbode

    you are correct, but Harv was noting that Mack can play this situation to his advantage for next offseason if he would like to do it that way.

  • Jason Hurley

    Or he could tear his achilles in training camp and lose the bet he’s making on himself. It’s all a gamble.

  • Harv 21

    true dat. Guy who has been beaten to death in the trenches but never missed a snap even with a burst appendix is going all-in on himself (to use Cleveland’s current fav sports cliche). Or … his agent Marvin Demoff, who is one of the best, may be expertly turning up the heat on rookie GM Ray Farmer. Whatever happens, Farmer will be a veteran GM after this off-season.

  • woofersus

    Ah, I follow now. I still expect that his plan is to go out and find the best deal he can get, and if the Browns match, they match.