Last week, the Browns applied the transition tag to center Alex Mack, guaranteeing him $10 million for 2014, if/when he signs the offer. He hasn’t signed it yet.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com reported Monday that Mack’s agent is “confident” that he can structure an offer sheet with a “reasonable likelihood” the Browns won’t match. It’s important for any team that signs Mack to an offer sheet to believe the Browns won’t match it; otherwise, the new team will have negotiated Mack’s new contract for no fee or other compensation.
With the poison pill no longer available and the Browns flush with cap space, it will be hard to get the Browns not to match the offer. While Mack’s agent may believe that he knows the limits of the Browns’ budget on a long-term deal, the plan surely will be revisited if/when another team signs Mack to a long-term deal beyond anything the Browns previously have offered — especially since the Browns will receive no compensation if Mack leaves.
The negotiations become more interesting if the Rams have perhaps decided to move on from 33-year-old center Scott Wells. Mack’s agent, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Rams COO Kevin Demoff. The two of them could work together to come up with an offer that the Browns would be inclined not to match.
Or maybe the son will do the father a favor, signing Mack to an offer sheet that they both know the Browns eventually will match. In the interim, Wells perhaps could be squeezed to reduce his $5.5 million base salary.
Regardless, the smarter play for Mack seems to be taking the guaranteed $10 million for 2014 and hitting the open market in 2015, when the salary cap reaches as high as $145 million and it would cost Cleveland $12 million to restrict him for a second straight year.