Some of the details regarding the tentative terms of the five-year offer sheet that center Alex Mack will sign with the Jaguars are beginning to trickle out. Per a league source, it’s a fairly straightforward contract.
Despite speculation that the deal will include a 2015 balloon payment requiring a restructuring that Mack would do in Jacksonville but refuse to do in Cleveland, the offer sheet as currently constructed doesn’t put the Browns in a bind of that nature. It does, however, include a provision that can void the deal at the player’s election to as little as two years.
According to the source, the deal pays out roughly $18 million to $20 million over the first two years, fully guaranteed. Over three, it’s in the ballpark of $27 million, guaranteed.
The Jaguars don’t view the contract as a good deal for the team, but since the franchise currently doesn’t have many young players in which to make a major investment, they see the opportunity to lure Mack to town as a way to secure a Pro Bowl talent at an underrated position of importance to the success of an offense, and as a way to change the franchise’s perception. Whether they get Mack or not, Mack is choosing Jacksonville over Cleveland, after five seasons with the Browns.
Still, the Jaguars view their chances of ultimately getting Mack at 50-50. On one hand, the Browns could immediately match the offer, because the last thing the Browns need is another embarrassment. And if the contract pays out a full $20 million over two years and then he voids the deal and signs elsewhere, that’s still more than $5 million less that the Browns would have paid Mack for two more years under the franchise tag.
On the other hand, the Browns may decide they don’t want to overpay a guy who doesn’t want to be there. By giving that kind of deal to Mack, what will the players who want to be there expect when it’s time to get their own contracts negotiated? Moreover, with $12.1 million being paid this year to left tackle Joe Thomas, plunking down $20 million over two years to the center could skew the team’s budget on the offensive line.
The knee-jerk reaction for owner Jimmy Haslam and company surely will be to match the offer, especially since fans already are up in arms over the decision not to use the franchise tag on Mack, which would have ensured he can’t be pilfered this year. But if the Browns take the full five days to think it through, maybe they’ll decide that long-term best interests of the team are served by not breaking the bank for a guy who can’t wait to bust out.