Free-agent-to-be Alex Mack likely won’t be designated as the Browns’ franchise player, since the team won’t want to pay left-tackle money to its starting center, but Cleveland remains very interested in re-signing Mack. According to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, negotiations between the two sides are expected to get underway after Mack returns from a humanitarian trip to Rio de Janeiro at the end of the month. However, before negotiations begin, Mack will want some answers to questions he has about the Browns’ future and direction, agent Marv Demoff tells Grossi.
“I think the most important thing is Alex really would want to meet the coaches,” Demoff said. “He was pretty close to [former offensive line coach George] Warhop, and liked [former head coach Rob] Chudzinski. Everything he had in Cleveland is changed. Warhop was a constant for five years. He’s gone. There’s a different head coach, different offensive coordinator, different offensive line coach. If you’re looking at this from an intelligent point of view, there’s more to it than money. You have to believe in what you’re doing. I want Alex first to be able to sign off and say I’m fine with all the changes and where they’re headed.”
While Mack had been viewed as likely to leave Cleveland under the team’s old regime, the new decision-makers are anxious to meet with the center and his agent, according to Grossi. The club previously attempted to work out a long-term agreement in the fall, but couldn’t agree with Mack and Demoff on either the dollar figure or the number of years. Grossi hears from a source that the Browns wanted a five-year deal, while Mack preferred three years, though he was willing to do four.
Although those early negotiations weren’t fruitful, the two sides agreed to revisit the conversation after the season, and Demoff insists that the previous impasse in talks won’t preclude a deal this time around. In the agent’s view, his client isn’t necessarily clamoring to reach the open market.
“During the season, he was playing football with the Browns,” Demoff said. “When he was negotiating in October, he was negotiating a long-term deal for the Browns. Once that didn’t happen, he put it aside. He didn’t put a circle on March 11 on his calendar.”
If Mack isn’t tagged as the team’s franchise player, and if he and the Browns are unable to reach an agreement by March 11, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. In that case, the 28-year-old figures to be one of the most appealing offensive linemen available. According to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required), Mack graded as the league’s fourth-best center in 2013.