Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack did not sign his transition tag in the hopes of receiving a massive offer from another team, and keeping his options might pay off if the Jacksonville Jaguars give Mack an offer that the Browns can’t match. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reports that both Mack and the Jaguars are still in talks, and she also reported that the Jags “are still contemplating” a contract offer for the star center. The Jaguars overpaid for starting guard Zane Beadles for a massive upgrade at one position on the interior (they desperately needed a starting guard), and they also have a big need at center after veteran Brad Meester decided to retire.
It’s unclear how much the Jaguars will offer Mack in order to try and poach him from the Browns, but it would have to be a large sum of money in order to prevent the Browns from keeping him. At this point in time, it sounds like Browns owner Jimmy Haslam likes his chances, “We remain optimistic that Alex Mack will be a Cleveland Brown for a long time. We want him to be. I think we’ve made it very clear that he’s the kind of person, the kind of player we want in our organization.”
The Browns have always been expected to match just about any offer the Jaguars give to Mack, and it doesn’t look like that belief has changed. The old contract offer floated around was a guaranteed three-year, $22 million deal, but it makes more sense for Mack to take the transition tag instead of hoping for a bigger offer from the Jaguars. If he is tagged next year, then he would make $12 million on the tag. His best option is to take the tag and hit free agency again next year as one of the league’s premier centers; that’s a big way for him to maximize his earnings in the prime of his career.
Mack’s unwillingness to take the tag offer has caused several Browns fans to question whether or not the center wants to stay in Cleveland, and we previously had every indication that he wanted to stay. That doesn’t appear to be the case, but I think the only thing that pries Mack away from the Browns is a massive offer from the Jaguars; one that’s probably unwise to give. The Browns let T.J. Ward hit free agency and sign with the Denver Broncos, so their decision to tag Mack was, at the time, a statement that they valued him more than Ward. I don’t think the Browns have any intention of losing both players this offseason, especially since they are two of the best players in the league at their respective positions.