Monday afternoon, Peter King of Sports Illustrated put Cleveland Browns fans on edge with this tweet about center Alex Mack:
Agent for transition-tagged Cle C Alex Mack tells me he's "confident" he can structure pact w/a "reasonable likelihood" Browns won't match.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) March 10, 2014
Should the Browns be scared that they could end up losing Mack? I would say no -- I see this as nothing more than a negotiation tactic from Mack's representatives, who include Marvin Demoff and Tim Younger. Think of this from their perspective:
- Mack's representatives know that the Browns have a lot of cap space, and are likely going to match any offer that Mack would sign with another team. Other teams probably know this, so they will not be wasting valuable time in free agency negotiating with Mack, only to find out he stays in Cleveland.
- In order to persuade other teams from dedicating some time to Mack when free agency starts, and perhaps even making him a legitimate offer, they need to spread the word out that it's possible the right offer would keep the Browns away. Whether the Browns match or not, Mack's representatives probably could care less -- they just want the highest dollar amount possible.
- If they don't see something they like, they can sit on Mack's $10.039 million in 2014, and let him cash in even more in 2015.
The primary reason I remain confident that the Browns won't lose Mack this year goes back to using the transition tag vs. the franchise tag. The Browns would probably love for Mack to sign an offer sheet with another team, because then they can force him to stay in Cleveland. If the Browns' front office didn't match an offer, it would be a catastrophic screw-up of not only missing out on two first-round draft picks, but possibly SS T.J. Ward as well.
It's also worth noting that King shares the same agent as Mack, so it doesn't hurt for him to do a favor for a buddy by potentially driving up the value for Mack. Later on, King basically conceded the same point I felt:
Not the point whether he wants out. Point is, if you're transition-tagged, only way to make real money is to get an offer. That's the goal.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) March 10, 2014