Browns reportedly ready to match Mack’s offer “in no time at all”

Alex Mack

Sad Alex.

Less than 24 hours after reporting that the Jacksonville Jaguars may have themselves a shiny new Pro Bowl center, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has hedged his bets with a report that the Cleveland Browns will match the Jags’ offer in “no time at all.”

Jacksonville’s offer was reportedly designed to make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match. Also a factor is that Mack appears to desire any NFL city aside from Cleveland. But much to the center’s chagrin, Ray Farmer’s front office has the most cap space in the entire league and appears willing to use it in order to retain one of the game’s best centers. Per ESPNCleveland’s Tony Grossi, the team is well aware of Mack’s feelings, but is not about to set a precedent about disgruntled players getting to take their talents elsewhere. Not to mention: Mack is a stud.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reports Alex Mack’s five-year offer sheet with the Jaguars will make him the NFL’s highest paid center. Specific terms still haven’t been released, but Carolina’s Ryan Kalil is currently the NFL’s richest center, recently inking a six-year, $49 million contract. That deal contained $28 million guaranteed, including an $18 million signing bonus.

Joe Haden, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron (among others) are going to command a raise at some point, but the Browns appear willing to cross those bridges upon arrival. By all accounts, Mack is going to cost the Browns at least $18 million in guarantees over the next two seasons, making him the game’s highest-paid center. How the fans react to his off-season antics, however, may be a completely different story.

Photo: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

  • thenoclist

    off the field antics?

  • Al DiFranco

    It will be very interesting to see how Mack tries to spin this with the fan base if the Browns do match the offer. It would have been one thing if he tried to go back out west to play nearer to where he grew up and try to win a title. It’s another thing to run to whichever team just ponies up the money when the Browns (allegedly) offered him a pretty lucrative long-term deal before placing the transition tag on him, despite him saying he wanted to play for a winner.

  • It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but when Anderson Varejao was a restricted free agent, he held out at the beginning of the season when the team really needed him. He then signed an offer sheet with Charlotte and was very clear that he hoped Cleveland wouldn’t match.

    When the Cavs ultimately did match the offer, Andy returned to Cleveland, said he was happy to be back, and let his play on the court speak for itself and the fans have never held it against him. If Mack comes back, says the right things, and continues to produce on the field, the fans will get over it.

  • CB Everett

    Pouting and poopy pantsedness over the last year. Not to mention a lot of dishonest ploys on the base during negotiations (pitting the old regime as the bad guy when he wanted out all along, saying he’s tired of losing/wants a contender and then signing with the jags)–that sort of thing that leaves a bad taste.

  • thenoclist

    Got it. Not sure I want players who explicitly say they want out of Cleveland then lie about the reasons why. If this jeopardizes signing some of our other talent, I would forget him.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Obviously the Browns value what Mack does and will be paying an outrageous sum for it I would hope this guy would try and live up to those things and play just as well if not better. At least there won’t be anyone accusing Haslam of being cheap.

  • Natedawg86

    He could have signed the transition tag, been the highest paid, and left for FA next year. I think that is the point that it sometimes overlooked. If he knows the Browns will match, then why sign the offer or look for offers if he does not want to play in CLE?

  • Jeremy Campbell

    I know that the center position is pretty important to the offense but wouldn’t it be safe to say that Shanahan is going to run a new system that Mack would have to learn anyways, taking away his advantage of being accustomed to the offense and that they could sign a free agent center or get one in the draft and avoid paying a center so much money?

  • RGB

    I suspect Demoff had a lot to do with this.

  • nj0

    Are fans really mad at Mack for wanting to get away from the Browns? The guy has played for four coaches in five years. Under how many GMs, Presidents, front offices, etc.? It’s not an indictment of you personally or the city. The Browns have been dysfunctional. Wanting to get away from them is the most sensible thing in the world.

  • nj0

    Nothing drives me more crazy than the suggestion that agents force the hands of players. Cause yeah, Mack would love to continue playing in a dysfunctional organization. And he doesn’t want to make as much money as possible. Same thing ALWAYS happens with Boros. Because if Choo signed with another agent, he would have told him to sign here for half the cost.

  • mgbode

    wait, it played out like pretty much every non-poison pill RFA or tag contract plays out? really?


  • cmm13

    And thank the basketball gods were were able to retain Varejao’s services.
    He is the pillar of consistent healthy play that has lead us to all those rings….. er, wait a minute.

  • CB Everett

    Sorry, but “mega agents” (both in particular you mentioned) have huge egos that come into play, and they are most certainly vested in squeezing the extra dollar to uphold their “mega” status–so yes, the agent is a factor (and often an obstacle to overcome).

  • CB Everett

    1. He wasn’t forthright from the start that he wanted out (that’s a new revelation)–so there’s that.
    and 2. If you do want out (and view the org as “dysfunctional” or a “dumpster fire” or whatever), that’s fine. But don’t expect to be welcomed back with open arms. It’s called burning a bridge, and fans have every right to turn their backs on him if they want.

  • nj0

    First off, all agents aren’t ego-driven maniacs who only care about money. There is a great variety out there and they run the gamut. Second, players chose the agent they sign with. Guys who sign with Boras know EXACTLY what they are getting. Third, agents work for the players. Simple as that.

    Are they a factor? Of course. But if your agent is trying to maximize your pay day and telling you to do x,y,z to do so, it’s because you want him to maximize your pay day.

  • eldaveablo

    From our perspective, it’s hard to discern player desires from negotiating tactics. Everyone said his agent is smart and plays hardball, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this was all done for the sake of leverage in negotiation.

    In the end, the Browns will say they got the better of it, the Agent will say he got the better of it, and Mack will say something like, “Contract negotiation and free agency are complicated processes, and I’d like to thank my agent for doing everything he could. I wanted to test free agency, and am thankful to get a taste of it with Jacksonville’s very gracious offer. In the end, this is where I wanted to be, and I am glad to sign a long term deal here in Cleveland. I look forward to meeting with the new coaches to learn their system and get back to work with Joe and the rest of the line.”

  • toledo

    Terry apparently forgot his anti-senior-moment pill again this morning

  • nj0

    Obviously they do. I just don’t personally get that point of view.
    I would do the same if I were him.

  • Hopwin

    How was he not forthwright about wanting to leave? He said he would wait until he spoke to the new front office before making a decision (and chose to remain in South America until he finished his vacation). Came back, met with them and his agent immediately started spouting off about finding a new team for him.

  • Hopwin

    Upvote for “poopy pantsedness”

  • cmm13

    This seems pretty easy to me based on the meeting Team Hasbro had with Alex in California a few weeks ago.

    If they got the vibe from him then that no matter what money they threw out to him he would be a locker room cancer trying to place himself off the team they don’t make this move.

    If they got the vibe from him that he wants paid for his services/headaches the franchise has put him through and we’ve got the cap space to do it and not intefere with future extensions to Haden, Cameron and Gordon… then do it.

    Can we please now draft Watkins and get this show on the road?

  • CB Everett

    No I get that–and I think agents are unfairly villainized by generalizations. I was just making the point that the way the big agents (like Boras) of the world make their name is to be extra hardballed or cunning or conniving. They of course want to attract the big stars, so they have a vested interest in not budging…and their egos tend to get in the way. They are indeed a factor–that’s all I’m saying.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Poor Alex he cannot escape the Browns no matter what he does. Looks like you’ll be wintering along the shores of Lake Erie for a little longer sucka!

  • Jbone17

    I think the browns believe he would excel in Shanahans zone blocking scheme. Need a smart guy at center to call out the blocking assignments.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think his time is up it’s time to cut ties. His genius head coach did him a great disservice by playing him so many minutes. It was just a matter of time.

  • It’s not simply the agents applying pressure. The various players unions have a stake in all of this as well, and the pressure they can apply is often immense. Top talents not maximizing their earnings now depresses the market for others in the future. This was frequently discussed when Sabathia became a FA after his time in Milwaukee. Even if he’d liked to stay with the Brewers or return to the Tribe for really good money, passing on the huge money the Yankees were offering would mean the next star to hit FA not getting as big an offer, since Sabathia would be acting as at least part of the value measuring stick. I respect that not all agents are greedy, though I think the ones that are get the most work. But even without agent greed, there are still forces involved outside the player’s control. It’s a complex issue, and fingers of blame can easily point in most every direction.

  • cmm13

    …..So how come he dont want us man??

  • mgbode

    dude is a Bridgewater man, you get him Teddy and here’s how Mack will be:



    Every once in awhile, an agent like Jerry Maguire comes along and truly *gets* that it’s not about “showing you the money” and that makes my heart happy.


    I guess the only place I cry foul is someone saying they want to get away from a dysfunctional organization and then signing with…


  • nj0

    MLBtraderumors. com had a number of interviews with players explaining who their agents were and why the went with them. Those were pretty enlightening. Seems like the image of the Boras-esque agent isn’t representative of the field as a whole. I have to imagine this is especially true in baseball.

  • nj0

    All things equal, guess you go to the place with no snow?

  • Pat Leonard

    I think if Alex Mack was willing to “go over the middle” like Rod Tidwell, then we never would have reached this awful place.

  • Matthew Grant Anson


  • Kenny_Chill

    So, wait…the Browns are going to tie up a metric ton of money into a player out of spite? Oh wow…meet the new boss, same as the old boss. This is why I love the Browns so much!

  • hutch058

    Its interesting that Mack has not really said anything himself. All of this garbage has come from his agent. I’m sure when he shows up in Cleveland for training camp he will say all the right things.

    If Mack wanted out, he would just sign the tender, play this season, collect 10 mil and find a team next season. He has to know that the Browns are going to match, making his stay much longer than one season

  • Toddyus


  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea but does Jerry love the white man too?

  • James Workman

    “Off-season” not off field.

  • mgbode

    or…$9mil/year for 2 years (what the Jag contract boils down to). Less than the franchise or transition tag AND we can use the tag on someone else next offseason. Win/Win.

  • Keith

    Match, then trade him to the Jags for a few draft picks.

  • thenoclist

    Is the off season off the field?

  • James Workman

    Yes and no. Depends on which part of the off season you are referencing. While I don’t think “antics” is the best word choice, your misquote could imply something entirely different than the author intended. Just saying.

  • bupalos

    I really think people put way to much stock in what players and agents say and fail to see it as part of the negotiating process. There are literally just a handful of examples in the last several years where players have taken anything but the most lucrative offer or path. Winning can figure into that, but mostly only insofar as winning promises to raise a player’s profile, and O-linemen are at the bottom of that list. Mack, like anyone in FA, needed offers for leverage. The tag and stated intent of the Browns to match reduces teams’ incentive to invest energy in making offers. So Mack had to present them a compelling reason to pursue him. So at that stage it was “hey I really really want out of here and will help you get me despite the tag, just offer something and we’ll set it up so the Browns won’t match.” As soon as there is an offer in the works, it’s “hey, if Cleveland matches, that’s great too, I love Haslam!” It worked out extremely well for him. He can have his choice of a guaranteed 2/19 or 3/26 ad hit FA again in whichever still-prime year his market is higher. I think the stuff about wanting to train and play 8 games here or there should be presumed to be mostly bullshit. When they go into negotiations these guys are looking almost exclusively at the ±25% of their lifetime earnings that is at stake by the decisions they make.

    I guarantee you the reason Mack is going to sign this and didn’t sign whatever the Browns offered long term is that he thinks this sets him up to make ‘more money.’ I doubt if he cares that much whether that ‘more money’ would come from the Browns or Jags or the Scranton SheDevils in the arena league.

  • bupalos

    Agents worry about 1 thing. Money. Players hire them to worry about 1 thing. No one forces anyone’s hand because it is the same hand.

    As for the “dysfunctional organization,” I seriously doubt an established top-of-the-market guy like Mack views himself as anything other than an employee of the NFL, which has 32 branch offices where he flies around to pick up his check.