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Alex Mack and Paul Kruger named to “All-Bad Contracts” team on Grantland

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I read articles like this the way some people slowly peak at a poker hand hoping to find aces, except opposite. I’m hoping beyond hope that as I scroll through a Bill Barnwell list of bad contracts that there are no Cleveland Browns on the list. Unfortunately, due to the way the Browns’ off-season unfolded with Alex Mack, they find themselves listed prominently. Here’s Barnwell’s explanation.

Mack’s five-year, $42 million contract guarantees him a staggering $26 million, $7 million more than any other center in football. He’ll have a 2014 cap hit of $10 million; no other centers cost more than $7.3 million. Because the Jaguars structured the deal to discourage Cleveland from matching, they also left Mack with a player option in 2016, which he can use to hit free agency again. No center is worth this sort of deal, even a good one.

Obviously I agree with him that Alex Mack is overpaid. I guess, I might try and lessen the blow of that by saying it’s not like overpaying a quarterback. I think even if Alex Mack is overpaid, he’s likely to earn somewhere around 80% of the money he’s been given. Also, giving that money to an incumbent player on the offensive line should be easier to project than using money on a receiver or other skill position player to come in from another system. Then again, I very well could be looking at this through Browns-colored glasses.

The Browns don’t go unscathed on defense either thanks to last year’s acquisition of Paul Kruger from Baltimore.

Cleveland saw the possibility to steal a young pass-rusher away from its rivals and gave Kruger a mammoth five-year, $40.5 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. He mustered up a mere 4.5 sacks in his first year with the team, often looking like their third-best pass-rusher behind rookie Barkevious Mingo and supplanted incumbent Jabaal Sheard.

There’s a silver lining here for the Browns on Kruger though. The team smartly front-loaded the Kruger deal and a quick look at my notes from back when Kruger was signed shows that it won’t be horrible if they have to cut him loose after this year.  The way the Browns designed the deal by front-loading it with a roster bonus, they can cut him heading into 2015 and it will only cost them $3.86 in dead money while saving them $4.34 million should they need it. There’s always a third option of converting some base salary to bonus to spread it out, but they’ll likely opt for just cutting him if he doesn’t play better in Pettine’s defense this year than he did last year.

I recommend reading the whole piece though. While it’s not fun to read about bad Browns contracts, it’s a gas to see Joe Flacco and Troy Polamalu listed prominently.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I agree with Kruger but not Mack. Kruger was a reach IMO and so far has shown what I was worried about and that was his success was a product of playing for a very good Ravens team. Fortunately for Kruger he still has a chance to salvage things thanks in large part to a much better surrounding cast.

    Mack found himself in a perfect situation in being able to cash in to an unreal degree. Which made the way he conducted things initially strange to me but oh well he’s here for a couple more years. The simple fact was given the status of the Browns OL they had to overpay to keep their second All Pro OL and they did.

  • Andrew Biviano

    I disagree that Mack is overpaid, in the pass heavy NFL your OLine is more important than ever and the Center position is calling all the protections on the line, I think Mack is the first in a future trend of Centers getting paid

  • JHop

    Exactly. Imagine the criticism if the Browns had let Mack walk. “How do the Browns expect their rookie QB to succeed without a proven talent at center?? It was a terrible move not matching the Jaguars’ offer.”

  • boomhauertjs

    More evidence Banner should’ve signed Mack to an extension much earlier.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I hated to see him get that much money but hey sometimes you gotta do it. I just cringed when I looked at the OL without him. Thankfully they draft Bitonio too. I think more depth is needed but am interested to see how Greco, Bitonio and Schwartz do. Greco is fortunate he’ll be between two All Pros so the right side of the line will be my focus.

  • I guess the point for me is what Boomhauer said. If the Browns hadn’t been so dumb as to let him get to F.A. without an extension he would be more appropriately compensated.

  • BenRM

    Wait – I thought the Steelers just made Pouncey the OMG HIGHEST PAID CENTER OF ALL TIME.

  • RGB

    IN THE UNIVERSE

  • saggy

    Greco is going to be LOVING this season.

  • mgbode

    unless he gets beaten out for the starting job and his contract is cut in half along with not getting to play.

  • mgbode

    Just wait until next year when Dalton tops the list.

    Mack is overpaid for a center and makes more than any center probably should make. I agree there. However, I believe Mack is much better than he gives him credit for being. And, Mack is a luxury we get to have because we don’t have a $20mil QB on the roster.

    Kruger was a bad signing. I hope he turns that around this year, but there were concerns when we signed him and they have played out thus far. Again though, it’s not hurting out cap space because we don’t have that $20mil QB.

  • Harv 21

    I think both contracts are legitimately bad. Mack’s didn’t have to be, and is the predictable result of putting cap guy/bad cop in charge of all negotiations and player relationships.

    Kruger’s contract reminds me a little of Swisher or Bourne but worse. He may be in his prime but there was plenty of doubt whether he was an impact guy when his past production clearly peaked when he was surrounded with premier players who drew double-teams. They overpaid to lure him to a losing situation, but unlike the Tribe’s lack of outfield alternatives a football team can acquire guys like Kruger in the draft any year they choose at a fraction of the cost. Over-stacking the d-line while completely denuding the RB position when they had an iffy QB was just weird.

  • nj0

    My blame for the Mack deal is at the feet of Banner/Lombardi.

  • nj0

    Also, not signing Mack would have left us with yet another hole to fill. One with no decent FA options too.

    I get why it’s on the list, but it sort of needs an asterisk. I’m okay with overpaying a guy if a.) he does contribute and b.) he’s the only realistic option.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • Petefranklin

    Thanks Lombanner!

  • Petefranklin

    I don’t know about you guys but I’m pretty optimistic that Kruger has a really good season. First year FA signings usually don’t pan out until the second year.

  • a_priori

    Also, some analysts have been projecting vastly inflated salaries in coming years. By locking him in for 4 years at that rate, maybe they DO end up saving some money as deals ratchet up. An analogous situation would be the Dallas Mavericks overpay for Chandler Parson