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?