The Cleveland Browns have two big free agents set to hit the open market this offseason in strong safety T.J. Ward and center Alex Mack, and both players are among the best at their respective positions. Since the Browns are more thin in the secondary than on the offensive line and SS is a more valuable position than C, Ward has been largely viewed as the team’s No. 1 priority to re-sign this offseason. In fact, there’s a strong chance that Ward ends up getting slapped with the franchise tag, but there’s mutual interest to get a deal done and hopefully both sides can come to terms on a long-term pact.
Despite not being viewed as the top priority, it’s still important for the Browns to keep Mack, who has been the model of consistency in Cleveland and is hitting the prime of his career. At 28, Mack is coming off of his best season, but the franchise tag isn’t an option since centers are lumped up with all the offensive linemen in franchise tag calculations. That makes his franchise number untenable, whereas Ward could be franchised on the cheap.
Per a source close to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, GM Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine are wisely trying to re-sign Mack now, and the source adds that the Browns are also trying to re-sign Ward, which is pretty much a given at his point. It isn’t a surprise that the team is driving at getting long-term deals done with both standouts, and it will be interesting to see how talks progress.