CLEVELAND – With the Jacksonville Jaguars set to sign Alex Mack to a five-year $42 million offer sheet, the Cleveland Browns have a tough decision to make.
The 28-year-old two-time Pro Bowl center’s offer sheet has a player option enabling Mack to leave after two years and test free agency again in ‘16. With the first two years being worth $18 million, the Cleveland Browns can match Jacksonville’s offer for Mack.
The question is, will they?
Some may scoff at the notion of paying a center in excess of ten million, but in today’s Madden-like era of passing, the center position has only increased in value. While left tackles are seen as the premier offensive line position to lock down long-term—due to a majority of NFL quarterbacks being right-handed—centers are in charge of calling out protections at the line, identifying blitzing linebackers and controlling the zero-technique (3-4 nose tackle) while managing gap control.
Without a top-notch center, an NFL o-line would collapse faster than a deck of cards.
That being said, Cleveland has successfully called Mack’s bluff and forced Jacksonville’s hand. With a solid group of centers in the upcoming draft in the form of Arkansas’ Travis Swanson, Colorado State’s Weston Richburg and USC’s Marcus Martin projected to go in the second to third round, Cleveland could let Mack leave and draft a center or match Jacksonville’s offer, draft a prospect to groom and let Mack leave in ‘16.
While it may seem like a tough decision on Mack, the ball is now in Cleveland’s court in terms of matching the Jaguars offer sheet. If Cleveland is smart, they will be wise and go all in.
Robert D. Cobb Is the CEO/Founder/Senior Editor-In-Chief of the InscriberMag : Digital Magazine and a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers Association), please follow him on Twitter at @RC_TheInscriberMag