Props to ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi, who scored a lot of details regarding the contract negotiations between center Alex Mack and the Cleveland Browns. Grossi's source of information was Mack's agent, Marv Demoff, meaning some of the information might be a little one-sided. Overall, though, without specific dollar amounts being mentioned, everything laid out by Mack's agent sounded plausible. Here are some quick takeaways I had from the article:
- Mack is currently on a humanitarian trip in Brazil with a couple of his teammates, and he won't be back until the end of February. Let's assume the worst-case scenario: that he comes back February 28th. That only leaves the Browns 3-4 days to decide if they have to use the franchise tag on them -- that would be if they feel they are very far apart in negotiations, but don't want to lose Mack in 2014. The price tag would be expensive at about $11 million, so it probably won't happen, but we also can't rule it out.
- In a worst-case scenario, the Browns would have about ten days to reach a new deal with Mack, since free agency begins on March 10th. The last time Mack and the Browns negotiated was back in October, when they were off on dollar amounts and years, which isn't uncommon. Mack reportedly wanted a three-year deal, but gave in a little bit and settled for four years. The Browns wanted a five-year deal. They agreed to put off further negotiations until January...but then Rob Chudzinski got canned, and so did the front office.
- Are the front office changes good or bad for Mack? Some fans had been wondering whether Joe Banner wasn't showing enough interest in Mack, and that now that he's gone, maybe Ray Farmer will push more to keep Mack. Mack's agent said that Banner indicated he wanted to bring the center back, though:
While it was commonly believed that Banner did not place a high value on the position of center – and that attitude may have impeded a new deal – Demoff said that was not the case.
"I think that’s unfair," Demoff said. "Joe probably had a number in mind for Alex and he believed his numbers were where he wanted to be. I think he looked at Alex as more than a position. I think they honestly believed Alex was a leader, had high character, and besides just being a player he was someone who they wanted to represent the franchise. If all those things didn’t exist, I don’t think Joe valued a center like a tackle. But in fairness to Joe, he always was nothing but complimentary to Alex. I never got any impression that he didn’t value Alex.
- Mack's agent said that Sashi Brown, the team's general counsel who specializes in contracts, is the one that held negotiations with them, on behalf of Banner. I would imagine that if Brown meets with Mack and his agent again soon, the Browns might have a different attitude -- in for or against retaining Mack -- via the opinion of Ray Farmer. The big key might be when Mack meets new head coach Mike Pettine, who will try to encourage Mack that a true culture change is coming.
- Mack might be intrigued by a contender, but if the money is close enough to what he wants, I think he'd prefer to stay settled in with his teammates, particularly fellow Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas.