Alex Mack

49ers Sign C Alex Mack

Trent Williams isn’t the only notable lineman headed to San Francisco. Free agent center Alex Mack also agreed to join the 49ers in the wee hours of Wednesday morning (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport).

Mack’s deal is a one-year pact worth $5.5MM, according to Rapoport (on Twitter).

It’s a return to sunny California for the UC Berkeley product. The deal also marks a reunion with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Mack previously played for Shanahan with the Browns and Falcons. Mack, 36 in November, comes with serious credentials — six Pro Bowls and a track record for durability. He’s played in and started in just about every possible game since 2009, save for his injury-plagued 2014.

The 49ers needed a quality middle-man in the worst way. While Williams turned in a stellar season, the interior line struggled to hold the line. That’s part of the reason why the Niners’ offense sagged and the club needed a new solution in the wake of Weston Richburg‘s retirement. Journeyman Ben Garland was given a chance to start, but the journeyman wound up with an injury of his own.

Mack, who made the NFL’s most recent all-decade team, can officially put pen to paper at 4pm ET today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Alex Mack Interested In Joining 49ers

Falcons center Alex Mack is 35 now, but it doesn’t sound like retirement is anywhere near his mind. In fact, the impending free agent appears to already be thinking about destinations, and has an interesting one in mind.

Mack called playing for the 49ers “very enticing” when speaking with Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports this past week. Mack specifically singled out Kyle Shanahan, who he played under in 2014 with the Browns and 2016 with the Falcons. “Kyle is an incredible coach,” Mack said. “He’s an incredible coach, great person, strong motivator and runs an offense that is something that I’d know really well and that I performed very well in.”

The interest is clearly there on Mack’s side, and since the 49ers have a lot of uncertainty at center right now, it could be a perfect match. Weston Richburg, San Francisco’s normal starter, missed this entire past season after suffering a devastating knee injury late in the 2019 campaign. He has two years left on his deal but it’s unlikely he’s back at his hefty $8MM+ salaries, and as Maiocco points out the team can save nearly $5MM by cutting him this offseason.

Ben Garland became the 49ers’ starter, but he’s a journeyman who got himself injured as well after just a handful of games. A first-round pick out of Cal back in 2009, Mack is a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who made the NFL’s all-decade team for the 2010s at center.

Despite his somewhat advanced age he’s been durable, starting 14 games this past year and all 16 in 10 of the previous 11. Mack got five years and $45MM from Atlanta last time he hit free agency and while his next contract won’t be quite as lucrative, he should still command a decent amount of money from the 49ers or any other team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/13/21

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Activated off reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/31/20

Here are the minor moves from 2020’s final day:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: C Alex Mack

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Extra Points: Bennett, NFLPA, Cap, Kirksey

Although Michael Bennett went through a nomadic late-2010s stretch after the Seahawks traded him in 2018, he remained productive. The veteran defensive lineman has registered 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons and is a free agent for the first time since 2013. Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks in 2013, would like to return to the team to which he’s most linked. Asked if he would want to play for the Seahawks again, the 34-year-old defender said “hard yes.” Bennett, though, has not yet committed to playing a 12th NFL season.

I would love to end my career in Seattle,” Bennett said, via Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest. “It’s not up to you, though. It’s up to the team.”

The Seahawks gave Bennett two contracts, including a three-year, $31.5MM extension in 2016. That contract was set to run through 2020, but after the Eagles and Patriots traded him, Bennett and the Cowboys restructured the deal to direct him toward free agency this year. Seattle has most of its pass rushers — including Jadeveon Clowney and Jarran Reed — as impending free agents, so the franchise will have critical decisions to make in the next week and change.

Here is the latest from around the league, moving first to the reconfigured NFLPA:

  • Russell Okung has enjoyed an eventful March, being traded from the Chargers to the Panthers and filing an unfair labor practice charge at the NFLPA staff. As for Okung’s status with the union, he will no longer be part of the NFLPA’s executive committee, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Okung dropped his bid for NFLPA president, throwing support behind Michael Thomas in a race that went to Browns center J.C. Tretter. Both of the players Tretter beat out for the job — Thomas and linebacker Sam Acho — will stay on as executive committee members.
  • Calais Campbell, Malcolm Jenkins and Wesley Woodyard will replace Mark Herzlich, Zak DeOssie and Adam Vinatieri on the executive committee. They will join Tretter, Acho, Thomas, Richard Sherman, Ben Watson, Alex Mack, Lorenzo Alexander and Thomas Morstead on the 11-man committee, the union announced.
  • Rumblings about the salary cap rising to around $230MM by 2021 have surfaced, but the 2020 cap will not move too far from the previously estimated $200MM amount. If the players approve the CBA proposal, the highest the cap would surge to in 2020 would be $206MM, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required). While the salary ceiling could climb significantly by 2023, if the league’s TV negotiations go well, those spikes will not come until at least 2021.
  • Christian Kirksey may have a chance to land on his feet before free agency. Recently released by the Browns, the veteran linebacker has three visits scheduled, Dan Graziano of tweets. Kirksey’s travel itinerary is not yet known, but the 27-year-old defender’s first visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
  • The Texans will take a look at a notable wide receiver soon. They will work out former Broncos rotational cog Jordan Taylor, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Taylor has not played since the 2017 season. He spent 2018 on the Broncos’ PUP list, and though he caught on with the Vikings last year, the 28-year-old target did not see game action.

NFC Notes: Rams, Donald, Falcons

No surprise here, but Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is expected to miss Sunday’s season opener against Indianapolis as he continues his holdout, Adam Schefter of tweets. Donald is presently at home with his family on the east coast and the two sides are not close to an agreement.

Holdouts typically do not drag into the regular season, but Donald has less to lose by staying home than other players fighting for a better contract. Le’Veon Bell, in theory, could have tried to drum up leverage by taking his holdout into mid-September, but that would have meant forfeiting game checks on a $12.12MM salary. Donald, meanwhile, is slated to earn only a fraction of that – $3.225MM – in 2017.

While we wait to see how things shake out between Donald and the Rams, let’s take a look at more news from the NFC:

  • The Falcons converted $1MM of center Alex Mack‘s $6.75MM base salary into a signing bonus, Field Yates of tweets. The move creates $750K of cap space for the current season. The Falcons are near the bottom of the league in terms of cap space this year, so every bit of flexibility will help them.
  • Cardinals punter Andy Lee‘s new contract calls for base salaries of $1MM per year in 2017 and 2018, Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM tweets. Arizona is hoping that Lee, 35, will help to turn around one of the league’s poorest punting units from 2016.
  • The Bears auditioned eight players on Wednesday, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune: wide receivers Mario Alford, Montay Crockett, Frankie Hammond, and Darreus Rogers were joined by defensive backs Dante Blackmon, Alex Carter, Brian Dixon, and Damian Swann. While Hammond and Dixon have played in the most NFL games, Carter might the most notable name on the list. A third-round pick of Detroit only two years ago, Carter has been limited by injuries and poor play and has only appeared in one pro contest.
  • The Cardinals worked out running back Darius Victor on Wednesday, according to Herbie Teope of the Times-Picayune (Twitter link), who reports Victor has another audition on Monday for an unidentified team. Victor, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Towson, spent a month on New Orleans’ roster earlier this summer but was waived during final cutdowns. He’s likely a candidate for Arizona’s practice squad.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Julio Jones May Need Offseason Surgery; Latest On Alex Mack

Falcons star receiver Julio Jones may need toe surgery this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of However, even though recovery from such a surgery would take months, it would not be expected to delay his 2017 season.

Julio Jones

Of course, Jones has been battling a toe injury all year, and he missed two games during the regular season as a result. But he still managed to put up 1,409 receiving yards, the second-best total in the league, and six scores. The injury is not expected to impact offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan‘s play-calling in any way during Super Bowl LI.

Per Rapoport, Jones will receive a full evaluation after the Super Bowl, and depending on the source, surgery is either likely or possible. The procedure would fix torn ligaments associated with turf toe.

Jones has dealt with foot injuries in the past, but the present injury is unrelated to his prior ailments. He is also battling a sprained ankle, although that will not require surgery. He has admitted that he is in pain, but he has done his best to downplay it, calling himself “full go” for the Super Bowl even though he was officially listed as a limited participant in practice.

Perhaps even more troubling for the Falcons’ immediate prospects is the fact that starting center Alex Mack will play Super Bowl LI with a fracture in his left fibula that he suffered in the NFC Championship Game. Adam Schefter of reports that, if this were the regular season, Mack could miss six to eight weeks, and while the Falcons are confident Mack will hold up in pass-blocking, they are uncertain whether he will be effective on downfield blocks or whether his leg will even hold up for a full four quarters.

The fracture occurred above the plate that Mack had inserted in his left leg after he broke his fibula in 2014, though Schefter does not mention what the offseason holds for Mack. Mack will join an impressive list of players who played in the Super Bowl despite a similar injury. Jack Youngblood played in Super Bowl XIV with a broken fibula; Charles Woodson played in Super Bowl XXVII after having surgery for a crack in his right fibula a month earlier; and Terrell Owens played in Super Bowl XXXIX with a fractured fibula and torn ligament in his right ankle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Notes: Jones, Ryan, Mack, Shanahan

Contrary to some megadeals for one player, the 2011 Julio Jones trade ended up benefiting the team that sacrificed draft picks instead of the franchise that acquired them. And this might come up during Super Bowl LI on Sunday since Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff made the trade against the urging of former boss Bill Belichick.

Bill was very open about it. He felt it was something he would not do. He said, ‘Thomas, are you sure you want to do this? You’re gonna be tied to this for the rest of your career,'” Dimitroff said, via Michael Silver of “We talked for 30 or 40 minutes. I remember coming back around at the end, saying, ‘All due respect — if and when you see we’re gonna pull the trigger on this tonight, your words didn’t fall on deaf ears.’ And in my mind I was thinking, [Forget] it: We’re doing this. It was surreal. Here’s a Hall of Fame coach and team-builder telling me not to do it, and I’m doing this anyway!

The Falcons held the No. 27 selection after joining the Patriots as 2010 No. 1 seeds ousted in the divisional round. They surrendered four picks to the Browns for the No. 6 selection. Dimitroff authorized two first-round selections to go to Cleveland in the deal. No players remain on the Browns from that exchange.

Here’s more coming out of the NFC champions’ headquarters on the eve of their first Super Bowl in 18 years.

  • Newly crowned NFL MVP Matt Ryan will become the highest-paid player in football if he signs an extension this coming offseason — regardless of Sunday’s result, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. The first Falcon to earn MVP acclaim, the 31-year-old Ryan has two more seasons remaining on his current deal, one that pays him the 11th-most money on average for QBs. But Falcons owner Arthur Blank said this week Ryan “will be” compensated well. He’s playing on the five-year, $103.75MM deal signed in 2013. That deal made Ryan the second-highest-paid player in football at the time. No player presently surpasses the $25MM-AAV mark, and Ryan — on the heels of a dominant regular season and amid a dynamic playoffs — could get there. Walk-year quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr could push for that distinction as well, but Corry believes Ryan’s deal will be the new standard. Andrew Luck‘s $24.59MM per year represents the current high-water mark.
  • Alex Mack looks set to play on Sunday after turning heads in practice this week,’s Tiffany Blackmon reports (on Twitter). The standout center’s fibula injury “concernedDan Quinn this week, with Mack being a key presence in Atlanta’s ground game. Ben Garland serves as the Falcons’ backup center but saw Mack start in each of the NFC champions’ 18 games this season.
  • The seminal Jones trade serves as only one of the reasons the Browns helped the Falcons reach this stage. Cleveland bypassing the opportunity to select Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr with its No. 23 pick instead of Johnny Manziel in 2014 likely irked then-Browns OC Kyle Shanahan, per Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, helping lead to his one-year tenure in northeast Ohio. Shanahan soon joined the Falcons after asking to be released from his contract.
  • Devonta Freeman is seeking “elite” money on his second contract. The Falcons’ starting running back becomes extension-eligible after the Super Bowl.

NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Seahawks, Saints

The Bears and receiver Alshon Jeffery didn’t agree to a multiyear contract by the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players, meaning they won’t be able to negotiate a new deal until the end of the season. Despite a report that the Bears aren’t keen on giving big money to Jeffery, general manager Ryan Pace is “optimistic” the two sides will eventually work something out (via Kevin Patra of Jeffery will first have to stay healthy in 2016, though, Pace said. Jeffery accomplished that from 2013-14, appearing in all 32 of the Bears’ games, but he missed six as a rookie and seven last year.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • The four-year, $50.2MM contract extension the Lions and cornerback Darius Slay agreed to Friday is a win for both sides, opines Kyle Meinke of In the 25-year-old Slay, the Lions finally have a shutdown corner, one who has rapidly improved since his rookie season – 2013 – thanks in part to his strong desire to get better, Meinke writes. Further, the Lions didn’t break the bank on Slay, whom Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked as the league’s second-best corner last season. For Slay, the deal provides financial security and pays him like a top seven corner, which is exactly the type of money he was seeking before signing the contract.
  • The Seahawks remain on the lookout for quarterback help, GM John Schneider revealed Friday (per Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk). “Yep, absolutely. And we do that with every position. We’ll have one, two, three guys like on standby.” Schneider also talked up undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin, the current favorite to serve as the No. 2 behind Russell Wilson. “Great athlete, tons of arm strength,” said Schneider, who believes Boykin would’ve been a third- to fifth-round pick if not for off-the-field trouble last season at TCU. Along with Boykin, Seattle has Jake Heaps, an undrafted free agent in 2015. Boykin and Heaps make up a less-than-ideal tandem from at least an experience standpoint, which would explain why the club tried to land Connor Shaw via waivers earlier this month. The top free agent signal-caller available is the recently released Nick Foles, though reports haven’t connected the Seahawks to him.
  • Between auditioning for the Saints in May and signing with them Wednesday, receiver Hakeem Nicks stayed on the team’s radar by texting head coach Sean Payton on a weekly basis, the 28-year-old said Friday (via Josh Katzenstein of Some of those texts included workout videos, according to Nicks, which apparently paid off for the former Giant, Colt and Titan. “We were real familiar with him just because on two different occasions we had him in for workouts. Plus, he wouldn’t stop texting me,” commented Payton, who added that Hicks’ personality “could be infectious and help the room.”
  • The Falcons’ offseason signing of center Alex Mack is their biggest pickup since the drafting of receiver Julio Jones in 2011, contends Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Mack could singlehandedly turn the Falcons’ offensive line from a weakness to a strength, writes Schultz, who notes that Atlanta has struggled since it jettisoned now-retired center Todd McClure after the 2012 season. In regards to joining the Matt Ryan-led Falcons, Mack told Schultz, “It was enticing to come here knowing they had a quarterback.” The 30-year-old spent the first seven seasons of his career with the bottom-feeding Browns, whose quarterback play was consistently woeful. Mack held his own, though, making three Pro Bowl trips before securing a five-year, $47.5MM contract with the Falcons in free agency.

NFC Contract Details: Vernon, Jenkins, Mack

Here are some of the latest details on many recent agreed-upon and signed contracts from out of the NFC (all links via Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post unless otherwise indicated)…

NFC East:

  • Olivier Vernon, DE (Giants): Five years, $85MM. $52.5MM guaranteed. $20MM signing bonus. $7MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2016 league year (Twitter links).
  • Janoris Jenkins, CB (Giants): Five years, $62.5MM. $28.8MM guaranteed. $10MM signing bonus. $1.4MM base salary in 2016 (Twitter link).
  • Brandon Brooks, G (Eagles): Five years, $40MM. $21MM guaranteed. $11MM signing bonus. $1MM base salary in 2016 and $5MM base salary in 2017 fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Chase Daniel, QB (Eagles): Three years, $21MM base value. $36MM max value. $3MM signing bonus. $3MM roster bonus due on March 14. $3MM base escalators in 2017 and 2018 (Twitter link).
  • Colt McCoy, QB (Washington): Three years, $9MM base value. Third year can be voided based on playing time. $1.8MM signing bonus. $1MM annually in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).
  • Ron Brooks, CB (Eagles): Three years, $5.5MM. $1.55MM guaranteed. $750K signing bonus (Twitter link).

NFC South:

NFC North:

  • Marvin Jones, WR (Lions): Five years, $40MM. $20MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Alex Boone, G (Vikings): Four years, $26.8MM. $10MM guaranteed. Annual $100K workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Danny Trevathan, LB (Bears): Four years, $24.5MM. $12MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. $3.5MM roster bonus due on March 14 (Twitter link).
  • Michael Griffin, S (Vikings): One year, $2.5MM. $250K signing bonus. $500K of $1.65MM base salary guaranteed. Up to $500K in playing-time incentives (Twitter links).
  • Tavon Wilson, S (Lions): Two years, $2.2MM. $500K signing bonus. Up to $500K in annual playing-time incentives (Twitter link).

NFC West:

  • Mark Barron, OLB (Rams): Five years, $45MM. $20MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • William Hayes, DE (Rams): Three years, $17.5MM. $10MM guaranteed. $4MM roster bonus due on March 13 (Twitter link).
  • Tyvon Branch, S (Cardinals): Two years, $8MM. $1MM signing bonus. $1.75MM roster bonus in 2016, $1MM roster bonus in 2017 (Twitter link).
  • Tim Barnes, C (Rams): Two years, $5.6MM. $2.5MM guaranteed. $1.25MM roster bonus due in four days. $750K roster bonus due on third day of 2017 league year guaranteed for injury, skill; becomes fully guaranteed if on roster June 17. Up to $1MM in annual playing-time incentives. $250K annual Pro Bowl incentive (all Twitter links).
  • Brian Quick, WR (Rams): One year, $1.75MM. $1.5MM guaranteed ($1.25MM bas salary, $250K roster bonus due on March 15). $2MM stats incentive (Twitter link).