12:18pm: All the money in Mack’s offer sheet is in the form of base salary, tweets Albert Breer of the NFL Network. To recap all the details we’ve heard today and yesterday: Mack will earn $10MM guaranteed in year one, $8MM in year two, then will have an opportunity to opt out after 2015. The deadline for the option is the start of the 2016 league year, so he can avoid being tagged if he voids the deal. If he opts in, his $8MM salary in ’16 is fully guaranteed. The 2017 and 2018 base salaries are also worth $8MM each.
FRIDAY, 11:35am: Mack has signed the offer sheet from the Jaguars, tweets Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), it’s a five-year, $42MM deal with $26MM guaranteed, as we heard yesterday. The contract includes a player option after the second year and a no-trade provision, tweets Schefter.
The Browns will now have five days to match the offer.
WEDNESDAY, 3:56pm: While Mack enjoyed his visit with the Jaguars and intends to sign their offer sheet, he’s also “fully prepared” for the Browns to match it, tweets Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
3:22pm: Free agent center Alex Mack will sign a five-year offer sheet with the Jaguars by the end of the week, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). When Mack formally inks the offer from the Jags, the Browns will have five days to decide whether to match it or to let their transition player go to Jacksonville without receiving compensation. For his part, the veteran center is hoping the Browns choose not to match, since he wants to play for the Jags rather than in Cleveland, tweets Schefter.
According to Schefter (via Twitter), Mack’s offer sheet with the Jaguars will be constructed with the intent of making it difficult for the Browns to match. Mack’s agent, Marvin Demoff, has expressed optimism since the start of free agency that he can come up with a deal that will make Cleveland reluctant to match, despite the team’s wealth of cap space.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com recently spoke to several agents and executives to try to get an idea of how a hard-to-match offer sheet might work, and concluded that a two-year pact with a significant second-year roster bonus could make sense. If it’s a five-year offer from the Jaguars though, the club may go in another direction. Former agent Joel Corry suggests (via Twitter) that giving Mack the right to void the deal after 2014, or guaranteeing significant money in later seasons could discourage the Browns from taking on the contract.
In any case, given the Browns’ cap room and their desire to keep their All-Pro center, it won’t be easy for the Jags to find the right balance between discouraging Cleveland from matching and not simply overpaying Mack. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam indicated this week that his team won’t let Mack go without a fight.
“We remain optimistic that Alex Mack will be a Cleveland Brown for a long time,” Haslam said. “We want him to be. I think we’ve made it very clear that he’s the kind of person, the kind of player we want in our organization.”
Mack, 28, has ranked among the top 10 centers according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required) in each one of his five seasons since entering the league in 2009. In 2013, he placed fourth overall, grading well above-average as both a pass blocker and a run blocker.
By designating him as their transition player, the Browns committed to paying Mack about $10MM in 2014. A long-term deal may not feature an annual salary that high, but it could easily make the former first-round pick the highest-paid center in the NFL.