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April 5, 2014 - Mike McLain
Browns free-agent center Alex Mack is in Jacksonville this weekend to talk to Jaguars officials, which adds more credence to the belief that he wants to leave Cleveland.
The Browns have placed the transition tag on Mack, which means they can retain his service if he signs with another team by merely matching the offer. If Mack doesn't sign with another team, the Browns would have to pay him about $10 million next season because of the transition tag designation.
Mack is one of the best centers in the NFL. Losing him would damage a line that was inconsistent last season.
The fact is that it appears Mack is ready to move on, even if it won't happen until next year. He's been involved with many bad teams since being selected in the first round of the NFL draft in 2009.
The Browns obviously don't want to lose Mack's services next year. They say they want to work out a long-term deal, but nothing has come close to happening.
It makes you wonder how committed the Browns are in this tug of war. They are far below the salary cap, which means money shouldn't be an object.
For now it's important to lock up Mack for the 2014 season. His value increases because of the unsettled nature of the right side, where guard Shawn Lauvao is gone (Washington) and tackle Mitchell Schwartz had a bad sophomore season pass protecting.
Paul McQuistan was signed away from Seattle and likely will start at guard. It's possible the Browns will use the fourth overall draft pick on Auburn tackle Greg Robinson.
Having Mack on hand will make the assimilation of any new pieces a bit easier.
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