While the free agent market thinned somewhat when the franchise tag deadline passed on Tuesday, another big name threw his hat in the ring on Wednesday afternoon when Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack voided the remaining years on his contract.
In case you were wondering how this pertains to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team attempted to sign Mack in 2014 when he was given the transition tag (see: Olivier Vernon this year). The Jaguars structured a deal they hoped Cleveland wouldn’t match…
"NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport broke the news that Mack will sign a five-year, $42 million offer sheet with the Jaguars on Friday… That means the Cleveland Browns, Mack’s current employer, have five days to match the offer. If the Browns decline to match, they won’t get anything in return.… the deal also includes a no-trade provision that runs through the first three years. And Mack can void anytime before the start of the 2016 league year, which allows him to wait until after the franchise tag period is over."
The Jaguars probably had a feeling the Browns would match, so they also included a provision giving Alex Mack an easy out two years into the deal. The timing of the opt-out means the Browns couldn’t franchise tag Mack and the Jaguars or any other team could make a run at him in free-agency.
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So with Alex Mack now a free agent at 30 years old, should the Jaguars pursue the Pro Bowl center?
The Jaguars don’t have an immediate answer at center with Stefan Wisniewski now a free agent and no proven guys behind him. There’s been some discussion about Brandon Linder or A.J. Cann moving over to center, but such a move would likely result in two spots getting weaker.
Signing Mack to a front loaded deal would be a wise move for the Jaguars, giving them an elite offensive lineman to couple with the young nucleus on the offensive side of the ball.
Defense should be the focus this offseason, but it’s hard to pass on a player the caliber of Mack if he’s willing to come to Jacksonville (again).