Browns center Alex Mack is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
Opting out would make Mack a free agent, but Rapoport said that Mack eventually returning to the Browns on a new contract is “a real possibility.”
A three-time Pro Bowler, Mack would likely demand big money on the open market and has to weigh that against the $8 million he’s scheduled to make from the Browns in 2016. Mack signed a transition tag offer sheet with the Jaguars in 2014 but the Browns matched it to keep him.
That new contract included $26 million guaranteed and the opportunity to opt out of it before 2016. Mack, 30, had never missed a snap before his Oct. 2014 leg injury and returned to start all 16 games last season.
Resolving Mack’s situation isn’t the only big issue the newest Browns regime faces with the offensive line. The Browns have said they’re committed to keeping Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who’s under contract but would likely demand at least a first-round pick back in a potential trade. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will also become a free agent next month unless he signs a new deal with the Browns before then.