Browns

Will Alex Mack’s future come down to who blinks first?

Mack

MackThe transition tag is seldom used in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns and Alex Mack may be realizing why that is.

When the decision was made, I wrote that the Browns were gambling a bit. Signs pointed to the Browns wanting to get a long term deal done with Mack, but needing more time to get the deal done.

Since the transition tag was placed on Mack, and the one year offer was tendered, Mack (or perhaps better stated his agent) has taken the foot off of the accelerator on getting a new deal done. The Mack camp has stated that they wanted to test the free agent market, and were in no hurry to sign the Browns’ tender.

Meanwhile, the Browns have lost guards Shawn Lauvao and Oniel Cousins in free agency and have seen the top guards and centers in free agency signed by other teams. If they played a game today, John Greco and Jason Pinkston would likely start at guard, with Garrett Gilkey as the back-up.

The point there is that the Browns are running out of options in free agency to improve the offensive line, especially if they end up losing Alex Mack because they don’t want to match an offer that he receives.

But is there really that kind of offer out there to be had for Mack?

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests today that there might not be.

“Any team that signs Mack to an offer sheet like that risks creating the perception that it’s not happy with the current starting center or that it anticipates pursuing a new center in 2015. There’s also a risk that the freedom the team helps finagle will blow up on that team next year, if Mack signs with another team in the same division.

Regardless, Mack’s best play would be to sign the transition tender before the Browns realize that they’re offering to pay $10 million for one year to a center and rescind the offer. If no offer is going to come from another team, Mack needs to realize that, if the tender is yanked in April, May, or June, the money on the open market won’t be anywhere close to $10 million per year.”

WFNY confirmed today that the Browns could indeed pull the tender offer from the table if they chose to. Such a move would make Mack an unrestricted free agent, and would likely signal his departure from Cleveland.

So the Browns and Mack appear to be locked in a staring contest. Mack’s camp is waiting and hoping that they can find an offer to give their client options. They would also like the Browns to start feeling the pinch of desperation because options along the line have dried up.

The Browns are waiting for Mack to see that his best financial decision is either to sign the one year tender or work out a long term deal with Cleveland.

So, who will blink first?

  • mmonast

    So, who will blink first?

    The player who will lose 10 million guaranteed, obviously

  • mgbode

    I don’t think there is any desperation on the Browns’ side of things. Mack will be playing for the team in 2014. It would be great if it was on a long-term deal, but it seems increasingly likely that it will be on a short 1 year contract.

    So, any desperation on the team side of things is likely in making sure that we extend all of our notable 2015 free agents. Doing so before July would put pressure on Mack’s camp to sign a longer term extension (because we could just tag him again – yes, at a premium, but it would be leverage on our side).

  • I’ve felt very comfortable with the Browns position on this from the beginning. I find the agent and his rhetoric laughable. The worst outcome for the Browns in all this is that they sign Mack for one year at the transition tender and then have to go through this again next year.

    Mack is a good player, but there’s just not a deal out there that the Browns aren’t in a position to match that the other team would also be willing to swallow.

  • TomWFNY

    You said the Browns lost O’Niel Cousins in free agency; I’d argue his departure is a win.

  • mgbode

    Yes, I agree. You don’t lose a disease, you are cured from one.
    The Browns were cured from their Cousins-Syndrome.

  • TomWFNY

    Cousins-Syndrome sounds like a disease prevalent among Steelers fans.

  • mgbode

    🙂

    If only he would have been signed by them. Ah well, a missed opportunity.

  • Garry_Owen

    Man, I’ve been blinking all day. Where’s my money?

  • Garry_Owen

    I believe you’re right, and see no downside in this. Right now, Mack does not want to be a Brown. But if we somehow “turn this thing around” (talking something like a .500 record this season), that sentiment could change. I highly doubt that he’ll agree to a long-term deal now, but that could change in the fall/winter. If not, we do the dance again.

  • mgbode

    the inferred reference is that you will lose money by blinking first. so, you can feel free to send me money.

  • CB Everett

    I agree with you on your points across the board re: position, agent saber-rattling, etc. But on another note– I find it interesting how people have accepted the Browns position with Mack now that Farmer is driving the bus. If we’re honest, I think if Banner was still in charge, the public perception (with the transition tag/the limbo status) would be much different.

    The removal of the Banner factor has allowed us to see that Mack may not really want to be here, for whatever reasons (which refutes the long-standing narrative)—and that he is playing his hand pretty hard. There’s this perception that Farmer knows what he’s doing, and we’re ok with him hard balling right back. But whatever the case, I’m glad we’re finally in line with the FO.

  • Garry_Owen

    But . . . if Mack blinks first, he gets $10 Million! For blinking!

  • mgbode

    I think the reason people are more willing to accept it is because it was Banner that didn’t extend Mack (and Ward) last offseason. It is hard to fault Farmer when he was not the one in control.

    If Farmer had been GM last offseason and not extended Mack (and alot of it seemed to be disinterest, though it is a valid point of which side drove more of it), then I think the public perception would be more negative now.

    As it is, Farmer is playing the hand that was dealt to him.

  • mgbode

    But, not a long-term contract with a big signing bonus and a ton of guaranteed money. One LeCharles Bentley practice play away from missing out on millions.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I know Mack only attended the U of California but even he will realize soon to just take the 1 year $10M and be done with it.

  • Garry_Owen
  • CB Everett

    I don’t think Banner had a magic wand to just extend anyone. Personally, I think Mack’s refusal to sign a long term deal following a Farmer-led, 6 man courtship visit suggests Mack didn’t want to extend last year either. He’s probably been packing his bags for a while. But we’ll never know, so that’s all academic.

    That said, the transition tag was a brilliant play. It’s taken the shine off Mack, and it’s made all of the negotiations this offseason to be more transparent. So now we’ll know what he gets offered (if anything) and what the Browns will match. We get to see if he wants to be here long term, and if he doesn’t (looks the latter). I really think Farmer has been pretty outstanding with how he’s playing this tough hand.

  • Kildawg

    They were also cured of Lauvaoism, passing on his turnstile tendencies to the Redskins. This move also proves that Dan Snyder is more like Jerry Jones than we thought.

  • Harv 21

    Mack is riding this with extremely successful agents who probably want to test the pressure points of a rookie GM. A GM who might worry that if there is a deal to be constructed that the Browns can’t match while still extending Haden and others the team will be left to scour the waiver wire for the guy who calls the line signals. I doubt they’ll pull the offer if Farmer and Pettine feel Haslam’s pressure to win sooner rather than later.

    It’s true that Mack will probably sign the transition. But in a world where any play can be the one where his achilles snaps, he can get paid like a top left tackle for the next couple of years. I don’t blame Mack one bit, especially after experiencing every hour of Berea turmoil, getting his 4th head coach and change of directions in his 5 seasons in the league. I blame Banner, for not locking up a fine center who plays every snap when he could. Banner had tons of cap room and didn’t need to “win” every negotiation, to hedge every bet until the midnight hour.

  • bupalos

    I never got that original article and the suggestion that there was “risk” involved. The only risk is that we might have to pay a market rate long term (which is what they want to do), and the 10MM is probably already over the market rate anyway. For all intents and purposes they franchised him for a mil and a half less than the franchise rate and probably helped the negotiation move along by establishing market and showing the Browns will pay more. The “tied up cap” is fairly silly… as of now we’ve still got a good 14MM counting his money and counting the rookies. We are in no way constrained.

    If the agent really did come up with some poison contract that got him out of here, fine…if he feels that strongly about it we can draft one of the top G/C’s probably with our first 2nd rounder and rain that money elsewhere on the line, maybe even a draft-day trade. The first couple weeks of FA aren’t the only way–or the best way– to add players. The browns have a TON of flexibility here. If Mack lets this go on too long (to the draft) he’d be an idiot. If something presents itself and he really does become an UFA, he’s going to lose money and he’ll have less choices than he may think.

    Overall this whole act is making me blame Banardi less. Mack looks to be kind of intransigent.

  • mgbode

    Yes, that is the question. Last July, it was really, really quiet on the extension talks (both Mack & Ward) and kanick even referenced some media rumblings about the Browns maybe thinking Mack wasn’t physical enough.

    The questions is if Banner did give Mack (and Ward) a legitimate offer last July and they both just balked. I don’t know.

  • bupalos

    I’m not sure where the evidence is that Banner could have locked up Mack. It starts to look like the guy just wants out period, and acting like a guy who wants out is the only option for this team isn’t realistic. I actually would go with a good slightly over market long-term offer, and if he won’t sign it, try to do something with draft and trades and pull the transition offer as soon as something solid comes through.

  • bupalos

    totally agree.

  • You might be right, but anytime a player gets to extend early and get that signing bonus money in his bank account it’s pretty tempting. This is why I was so hard on Banner for not re-upping Mack. We all knew that the Browns should want Mack and that he’s incredibly durable, so there was no reason not to do it.

  • Harv 21

    i have no evidence. Just remembering statements made by Mack earlier about potential extensions and Banner’s general manner of negotiating with players here and in Philly, followed by Mack expressing his anger after Chud and his position coach were canned. I wouldn’t take it personally at all if I were Farmer – he didn’t cause the prob. The last thing he wants to do is have to shore up center and both guard positions when he has one of the league’s premier centers.

  • brwnsfan

    cousins syndrome sounds more like the preferred method of reproduction among steelers fans

  • BenRM

    Comment of the day!!!

  • Splitting hares?!

  • zanyrat

    this article and the one that preceded it don’t make a great deal of sense. are you suggesting the browns didn’t think that there was a possibility mack would sign the transition tag tender?

    they have the money and the $4 million over market that they’ll pay mack means that they don’t have to replace (potentially) 4 of 5 spots on the line in one offseason.

    bottom line is this: the browns knew that it would be a reasonable move for mack to sign the tag and they were willing to shell out the cash to keep him around for another year. if they can work a long term deal with him sometime in the next twelve months, all the better.

  • Jason Hurley

    Intransigent – good word. Anyway, you’re dead on here. Plus, Mack is always a knee-twist away from losing all of that money that is in a hypothetical market-rate deal for him from Cleveland.

  • Jason Hurley

    Intransigent – good word. Anyway, you’re dead on here. Plus, Mack is always a knee-twist away from losing all of that money that is in a hypothetical market-rate deal for him from Cleveland.

  • Petefranklin

    Pretty sure Banner had a history of not extending guys under contract in Philly.

  • Petefranklin

    That seems like a great plan. Remember Mack holding out will really screw this offense up, especially with two new guards next to Greco in August. See if we can trade him.

  • REEPJP

    I suppose this is possible, but with all the loose lips in the LomBanner ship, one would have to think that someone would have reported it via “Sources”

  • REEPJP

    Drafting a Guard high in May will help speed this process up.

  • bupalos

    Yeah my biggest concern is that he really truly wants out to the point that he’d cause a stink. Not sprinting to sign the tag–or at least not doing it now that it’s clear no team is going to offer a high long termer–is a big red flag. I find it fairly implausible that he would openly forgo 10MM, but I don’t think it’s impossible that he could sign the tag and then still grumble and gold-brick it and play not to get injured. If I was Farmer I would say this definitely gets resolved by draft time one way or the other. You could still leave your long-term market offer out there for him, but I really don’t want him playing under the tag if this is his attitude. For 10MM your heart better be in it.

  • bupalos

    Yeah my biggest concern is that he really truly wants out to the point that he’d cause a stink. Not sprinting to sign the tag–or at least not doing it now that it’s clear no team is going to offer a high long termer–is a big red flag. I find it fairly implausible that he would openly forgo 10MM, but I don’t think it’s impossible that he could sign the tag and then still grumble and gold-brick it and play not to get injured. If I was Farmer I would say this definitely gets resolved by draft time one way or the other. You could still leave your long-term market offer out there for him, but I really don’t want him playing under the tag if this is his attitude. For 10MM your heart better be in it.

  • big z

    He’ll be in CA next year.