During my free agency reviews on the Cleveland Browns' offensive linemen, I discussed what type of contracts I'd be willing to bring RT Mitchell Schwartz and C Alex Mack on. For Schwartz, because the right tackle dollars are almost always drastically lower than left tackle numbers, I went with a 5-year, $34 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. However, given Lane Johnson's massive contract extension this offseason, it's understandable why he'd seek more. For Mack, I was thinking along the lines of a 5-year, $50 million deal with $25 million guaranteed.
This week, Joel Corry of CBS Sports discussed the exact type of contracts that 10 of the top free agents in the NFL should seek. He analyzed the situations for both Mack and Schwartz, with this disclaimer in mind:
While I represented players, I was primarily responsible for setting target or asking prices for clients at the firm where I worked that were going to be on the open market. I have set target prices with total contract value, guaranteed money and first three years compensation (when applicable) for five players given a franchise or transition designation and 10 unrestricted free agents. Remember, the target or asking prices for these players are on the high side and aren't necessarily what their actual deals will be.
Here is what Corry said about Mack and Schwartz:
Alex Mack, Center
Contract package: 5 years, $46.25 million
Guaranteed money: $28 million
First three years: $28.5 million
Mack didn't void the final three years of his five-year, $42 million contract with Cleveland to make less than the $24 million remaining on the deal. When Mack signed the contract, it made him the NFL's highest-paid center. Reclaiming the distinction from Miami's Mike Pouncey, whose deal averages $8.95 million per year, is probably the goal. Mack successfully returned from a broken left leg that sidelined him for the final 11 games of the 2014 season but wasn't quite the same player as before, even though he was named to the Pro Bowl. The voided deal was a result of Cleveland matching an offer sheet he signed with Jacksonville. It is anticipated that the Jaguars will make another run at the 30-year-old. The Cardinals also have a big hole in the middle of their offensive line that Mack could fill.
Mitchell Schwartz, Offensive Tackle
Contract package: 5 years, $47.5 million
Guaranteed money: $27 million
First three years: $30 million
Schwartz is the best right tackle on an expiring rookie contract. According to PFF, he only allowed 11 knockdowns (quarterback hits or sacks) during the 2015 season. Lane Johnson's recent five-year, $56.25 million extension (worth up to $60 million through salary escalators) with the Eagles containing $35.5 million in guarantees probably changes the salary equation for Schwartz, although Johnson is expected to eventually switch to the other side of the offensive line. Right tackles are paid considerably less than left tackles despite an increasing number of top pass rushers lining up in front of them. Prior to being released by the Colts at the start of training camp, Godser Cherilius was the NFL's highest paid pure right tackle at $7 million per year. The Giants are in need of a right tackle but releasing his brother, Geoff, may make them less attractive to Schwartz.
I could see Mack legitimately getting that type of contract, hopefully from the Browns. I'm still pretty adamant that Schwartz' deal would be a bit more ridiculous. Corry says that prior to last year, the highest-paid right tackle made $7 million per year. How does that allow Schwartz, who has never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, to command $9.5 million per year? The Johnson deal set a bad precedent for Cleveland, and that might be why it's tough to extend him because he'll want to truly "test the market."