Starting to Sour on Alex Mack
The transition-tagged center from California is trying his best to shed donning the orange and brown for the rest of his career. After not re-signing his contract extension a few weeks ago (after multiple members of the front office flew out to “pitch” the Cleveland Browns), his agent Marvin Demoff told the media he would try to construct a contract that would not be matched by his current employer – ensuring his departure. Now, Mack is meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars and an offer may be the end result. As a Browns fan, I am beyond disappointed by Mack and his agent – and am leaning towards the Browns making plans for life after Mack.
Despite the team’s favorable salary cap situation, they are under no obligation to pay an exorbitant amount to a center. I understand the player touches the ball every single play – but there will be a time when athletes like Joe Haden, Josh Gordon, and whoever the franchise quarterback will be, are going to negotiate their own contracts. I highly favor securing longer deals with players who can impact the game more than an interior offensive lineman. The exception to that rule is left tackle, as a priority has been given to that position and Joe Thomas has excelled at protecting several guys behind center.
My ideal scenario would be that no team signs Mack to a contract extension, the Browns choose a center (my favorites are Travis Swanson and Weston Richburg) and start him out at guard. In 2015, this player would then slide to his natural position. Another option would be that this rookie lines up in the middle near the end of the 2014 season; however that’s only if the campaign is a lost cause.
Should Jacksonville, or another NFL franchise for that matter, ink the center to a contract extension then the Browns will have a difficult decision. If there is an ample amount of guaranteed money and the annual salary is close to his transition tag amount (just over $10 million), I would be content with Ray Farmer and the front office bidding adieu to the two-time Pro Bowler. The Browns have ten draft picks this year; heck, take two centers if you are that worried about the position! Having a solid snapper is important in this league, but as far as the pecking order goes – it is well below quarterback, pass rusher, lock-down cornerback, etc.
If the Browns do match Alex Mack’s deal, I will be pulling for him (just as I would with any of the other fifty-two guys on the roster). However, it’s apparent he and his agent want to relocate after a futile fife-year run. Frankly, I don’t really blame him – but the Jacksonville Jaguars are not the model of consistent winning in the league either. This will-he-or-won’t-he is getting old, and the Browns do not have much leverage at this point. That can all change after the draft, expediting the process before Mack is mandated to report – training camp starts in mid July.