The Browns’ patient strategy with Alex Mack seems to have worked out for the best, opines Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto, who says the new deal is “expensive, but not outrageous for one of the top centers in the NFL — and a player who has not missed a snap since being drafted…”
In other AFC notes…
- Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey stands to benefit from Mack’s new contract, asserts the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette, who writes Pouncey can justify saying he should be the highest paid center in the NFL. Pouncey has one year remaining on his rookie deal, though contract negotiations have yet to commence, as the 24-year-old lost his 2013 season because of a torn ACL injury.
- The Chiefs had a productive return game last season, but lost Dexter McCluster and Quintin Demps in free agency, meaning they’ll likely draft at least one player with kick return ability, writes ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher, who relays Mel Kiper’s suggestions for prospects who fit the profile.
- The Patriots graded out well in free agency, in the opinion of Jason Fitzgerald at overthecap.com. Fitzgerald credited the Pats, who signed Darrelle Revis to “what was essentially a one year Franchise tender,” calling it a “no-brainer” since there is minimal long-term commitment. In summation, Fitzgerald says, the team “went into free agency without a ton of cap space and came back with two upgrades at cornerback without having to part ways with [Vince Wilfork] or get into future cap headaches by restructuring the contract of Logan Mankins or Jerod Mayo.”
- Fitzgerald was not as complementary of the Jets, however, as they received a C-minus free agency grade. In fairness, despite having ample cap space, the Jets were relatively passive in free agency, opting instead to rely on their 12 draft picks to add depth.
That strategy was the focus of a recent piece by ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini in which he underscored the importance of this year’s draft: “Because of their deliberate approach in free agency — some might say cheap — they have raised the stakes for the upcoming draft. May 8-10 will be the three biggest days of the year for a franchise in Stage 2 of its rebuilding project.”
Cimini also highlighted the stylistic and philosophical difference between GM John Idzik and former GM Mike Tannenbaum:
“Many fans are restless because they are not accustomed to this way of doing business. Under Idzik’s predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets owned the New York back pages in March, titillating the fan base with sexy trades and expensive signings.
Tannenbaum knew how to feed the beast, but there was a method to his madness. His research told him they were better off spending the money on proven commodities instead of stockpiling draft choices, figuring the bust rate of draft picks — especially in the late rounds — didn’t validate the risk-reward.”
Idzik, however, patterns his more conservative approach after some of the league’s more successful, draft-driven organizations which emphasize college scouting, player development and re-investment in homegrown talent. Cimini cited one personnel executive who defended Idzik’s approach: “The football offseason is like an event, a circus act, and fans in general want to see something. With John, he takes the air out of the balloon. It’s not exciting, but he does it his way. You have to respect that.”
Ultimately, Idzik has put the onus squarely squarely on himself to hit big in the draft.