3:00pm: The Browns have officially placed the transition tag on Mack, the team announced (Twitter link).
2:31pm: In recent Collective Bargaining Agreements, the transition tag has become virtually obsolete, taking a backseat to the franchise tag. However, the Browns will become the first team to use the transition tag in several years, placing it on center Alex Mack, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).
Like the non-exclusive franchise tag, the transition tag allows a player to negotiate with other teams when free agency begins. It essentially makes the player a restricted free agent — he can sign an offer sheet with another team, and his current team has five days to match it or pass. In Mack’s case, if the Browns chose to pass on the offer sheet and let Mack go to the signing team, Cleveland wouldn’t get any compensatory draft picks. The trade-off is that the cost of the transition tag on a one-year deal is slightly less than the franchise tag. This year’s figures are about $11.65MM for the franchise tag and $10.04MM for the transition tag.
Even at about $1.6MM less than the franchise price, the transition price of $10MM is exorbitant for a center. As OverTheCap.com’s data shows, the highest-paid center in the NFL by annual average value is currently Ryan Kalil of the Panthers, who is averaging $8.19MM per year. As such, signing the one-year transition tender for $10.04MM may be Mack’s best move, unless he receives a significant multiyear offer from another team in free agency.