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He wants out
April 9, 2014 - Mike McLain
Browns center Alex Mack could be close to getting what he wants, which appears to be his ticket out of Cleveland.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Wednesday that the Pro Bowl center could sign a five-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguar by the end of the week. Mack is a restricted free agent, which means the Browns can retain his services by matching any deal he signs.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, commenting at an Orange Carpet even for the premier showing of the movie "Draft Day," said Tuesday that the team would like to sign Mack to a long-term contract. The Browns placed the transition designation on Mack, which means they would pay him slightly more than $10 million for one season if he doesn't sign with another team.
How much more obvious can Mack make it? He's clearly grown tired of losing and the constant shuffling of coaches and front-office personnel after five seasons. He reportedly like what he heard from Jaguars officials and hopes that the Browns won't match an offer, assuming he signs with Jacksonville.
The Browns have about $31 million in cap space, which is several million dollars more than what the Jaguars have at their disposal. The Jaguars' plan seems to be to make an offer that wouldn't be beneficial for the Browns to match.
The Browns have to play this carefully. They know they can meet Mack's contract demands, but they have to be mindful of how to set up plans for future offseasons. While they have plenty of cap space now, that might not be the case in the future if they overspend on one center.
It might be best to let Mack go, despite the fact it would put a big hole in the middle of the offensive line. It would leave coach Mike Pettine with a Pro Bowl left tackle in Joe Thomas, but not much top-level talent elsewhere. John Greco is an average left guard. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz struggled noticeably in pass protection last season. Shawn Lauvao, who started at right guard last season, signed with the Redskins, which is no big loss, but there's still a hole there. Paul McQuistan, signed away from Seattle, could slip in there.
None of the moves is positive for the offense. It has to concern Pettine when thinking about putting a line in front of a quarterback (whoever that might be) with the current cast of linemen.
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