We are 11 days into NFL free agency, and the interest surrounding C Alex Mack, whom the Cleveland Browns slapped the transition tag on, has been relatively quiet. This past Tuesday, Pro Football Talk reported that Mack was generating "no interest" and didn't have any visits lined up. Early Friday morning, though, Brent Sobleski of the USA Today reported that this wasn't quite true:
Latest on Alex Mack, multiple options are still available. There is interest from teams despite reports. And open to returning to Cleveland.— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) March 21, 2014
Sobleski expanded on a few things over at the OBR, saying that the speculated rift between Mack and the Browns isn't what it's made out to be. He says that Mack is open to returning to Cleveland, but whether that involves just signing the tender or working out a long-term deal remains to be seen.
A few other nuggets dished out by Sobleski were that the use of the transition tag "wasn't even discussed when the two parties met prior to the start of free agency" and that it "came out of the blue." He also says that the Browns only made an offer to Mack just before the start of free agency, which would be somewhat similar to what T.J. Ward said on Thursday, when he indicated that the Browns never even offered him a deal.
Overall, though, things have remained relatively quiet with Mack. Pro Football Talk brings up a good point -- if a team, for long-term purposes, wants to sign Mack in 2015, they could offer Mack a 1-year deal worth $11 million, and then include a $50 million roster bonus that would be due in 2015. If the Browns matched that offer, they would 100% have to cut Mack after next year (as would any team), meaning they wouldn't be able to use the transition tag on him. It's a bit of a dirty game to get around the transition/franchise tag rules, but you'd still need to hope that the same team is still interested in you the following season.