As we reported on Friday, shortly after C Alex Mack signed the 5-year, $42 million offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cleveland Browns matched the offer, ensuring that he will stay with the team for at least the next two years. OverTheCap.com has the full breakdown of the contract details, which I summarize below:
|C Alex Mack - Browns' Contract Breakdown|
|Base Salary||Signing Bonus||Roster Bonus||Total|
|2014||$ 10,000,000||$ 0||$ 0
|2015||$ 8,000,000||$ 0||$ 0||$ 8,000,000|
|2016||$ 8,000,000||$ 0||$ 0||$ 8,000,000|
|2017||$ 8,000,000||$ 0||$ 0||$ 8,000,000|
|2018||$ 8,000,000||$ 0||$ 0||$ 8,000,000|
|$ 42,000,000||$ 0||$ 0||$ 42,000,000|
- I'm not used to looking at contracts that don't contain any signing or roster bonuses, but that's exactly what this is. To make up for that, Mack has the potential to earn a lot of guaranteed money.
- Mack's base salaries are fully guaranteed in 2014 and 2015. Regardless of what happens, he will pocket $18 million from the Browns. From Cleveland's perspective, this isn't a bad deal. Mack actually would have made $10.039 million if he had signed the transition tag, so he's making $39,000 less than he could have in 2014. That's the price for longer-term financial security, though. If the Browns wanted to use the transition tag on Mack again in 2015, it would have cost them around $12.39 million. Instead, they have Mack locked in at $8 million for 2015.
- After the 2015 season is over, Mack will have the option to void the final three years of his contract. However, if he decides to void his contract, he loses out on $8 million that is guaranteed. According to Joel Corry of CBS Sports, that $8 million becomes fully guaranteed on April 5, 2016. If Mack wanted to opt out of his deal, he would do so long before that so he could take part in free agency.
- The fact that there is a date attached to that money in 2016 is important for another reason: up until that date, Mack's money is guaranteed for injury only. That means that if the Browns find an up-and-coming center in 2015 and, for cap reasons, decide in 2016 that they'd rather sign another player and part ways with Mack, they can cut him at no additional cost. If Mack is recovering from a torn ACL or some other injury, though, the Browns cannot cut Mack without being on the hook for the money.
- I don't think this is an, "I can't wait until after the 2015 season" type of deal. It is a win for Mack and his agent, though. Mack can assess the state of the Browns' roster heading into 2016, and at age 30, he'll still probably be able to get one more decent contract. However, he'll have to be certain that the market is right for him. He'd be passing up on a potential $24 million over three years, which is something that he might not get on the open market at that time.
Over at Big Cat Country, there is a debate as to whether or not the Jaguars looked foolish in this situation, or if they gained respect around the NFL. (In case you missed it, Tony Grossi was at the forefront of mocking the Jaguars' organization)
My take is this: we should thank the Jaguars for doing the Browns a big favor. Every NFL team had to know that Cleveland was going to match any offer unless something really outlandish was done. Otherwise, Mack could very well have been a free agent in 2015. Instead, the Jaguars made Mack an offer that is not how you typically see contracts structured, but one that actually saves money for Cleveland over the next two seasons, compared to if they have used the transition tag. For that, I ask, "why did the Jaguars bother wasting time on Mack?"
Sure, it's not like their franchise will be devastated by Mack turning them down, but unlike Alfie Crow insinuated, let's not kid ourselves by thinking that Mack wanted to play for the Jaguars. He accepted the fact that he might have to play there in the off-chance the Browns didn't match, but Mack knew full-well what Cleveland was likely to do, and that is who he really signed the offer sheet with. The Jaguars were nothing more than a third-party who helped negotiate terms that both Cleveland and Mack were happy with.