All-Pro center Alex Mack is about to test the open market when NFL Free Agency starts on March 9th.
On Wednesday, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, reported that Cleveland Browns center, Alex Mack, had voided the last three years of his contract and will officially become a free agent. The Pro Bowl center was being paid an annual salary of $8 million. He signed an offer sheet with the Jacksonville Jaguars two years ago, and the Browns matched.
According to Mack’s agent, Tim Younger, there’s still a good chance that the former first-round pick could return to the Browns.
“We view Alex’s decision to void as procedural,” Younger told cleveland.com. “It was built into his contract to afford him maximum flexibility. For the first time in his career, he will be experiencing true free agency. Although we anticipate interest from multiple teams, he was very impressed with Hue Jackson and returning to the Browns certainly remains on the table.”
Mack, a three-time Pro-Bowler, will likely have his pick of teams to choose from, for there should be no shortage of teams lining up for Mack’s services. His agents, Younger and Marvin-Demoff, will look to make Alex the highest paid center in the NFL.
On March 7, other NFL teams are allowed to enter into negotiations with Mack, but would have to come to an agreement by March 9. Younger and Demoff will then give the Browns a chance to respond. If the Browns are unable to keep Mack, they do happen to have a replacement in Cam Erving, who the Cleveland Browns drafted in the first-round (19th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Mack was drafted in the first-round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Browns and quickly became known as an iron man on the field. In 2011, he played just days after having an appendectomy, then in 2015, he won the Ed Block Courage Award for his comeback from a broken leg he suffered in 2014. Since joining the Browns in 2009, left tackle Joe Thomas, right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack himself, quickly became one of the best trio of offensive lineman in the league.
New offensive assistant, Pep Hamilton, acknowledged that losing both Alex Mack and Schwartz, who’s also set to become a free agent March 9, is unsettling.
“I try not to think about it, but at the same time, I’m optimistic that things are going to work out,” Hamilton said. “Just looking at what they put on film over the course of their careers across the board, those guys up front, it’s expecting to see that the core, probably the most important component besides your quarterback of your offense, we have a strong group in place.”