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While we have not seen the entire deal, I believe the Browns will match the offer. The total cost (5years 42 million dollars) is less than the transition tag cost the Browns had on the table for him.
The one issue is the player option opt out after the 2015 season. Mack will be 31 at the end of that season and will likely have just 2 or 3 productive years left in his career. If the team’s plans work out well, Mack may decide to stay because he could like the direction the team is headed. But as Browns fans know all to well, he may decide to take his chances in free agency.
The other issue is the 22 million guaranteed money. If he opts out in 15 there will be a significant cap hit for the Browns. There would be about 4 million in dead money. If the cap rises to 165-170 million that will not be a problem.
Perhaps the biggest issue is does Mack really want to be here? My guess is the money is the issue and not winning. If he had a deal with a playoff team from 2013 we would assume he was more interested in joining a winning team. But the Jags are in worse shape than the Browns. Maybe he thought the Jags were the team most likely to relocate to LA which is his original home town. If the Browns match the deal, Mack will be back and will be the same quality locker room and field player he has always been. No one has questioned his professionalism.
If the Browns do not match, they would likely feel forced to take an offensive lineman with the 4th overall pick. They may do that even if they do match. By matching the Browns open up their options at 4 and in the rest of the draft.
Team owner Jimmy Haslem has been quoted as saying the team would match any offer. I do not believe he has said that. What I have heard is the Haslem wanted Mack back. If he did say the former, he has no choice but to match. It would send a bad message to the next crop of potential free agents including Joe Haden. But that is an issue for another time.
The Browns are clearly in the win now mode. If I was the GM, I would match the offer and hope that any potential dead money will be covered by the increase in the salary cap. Mack is one of the top centers in the league and the team has issues on the O line with him let alone with a rookie at his position.
That is what I think. Tell us what you think.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on .
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