Apparently, those meetings we heard about did not provide much in the way of success regarding a long-term contract extension with Alex Mack. In a bit of a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns have decided to place the transition tag on the Pro Bowl center.
Browns are placing the transition tag on center Alex Mack, which will give Cleveland chance to match any offer sheet he would sign.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 3, 2014
Rarely used, this tag amounts to a one-year, $10.039 million tender. Aside from the much higher salary, the transition tag essentially functions as the lowest restricted free agent tender, giving the Browns the right of first refusal. The big difference: The Browns will have five days to match if Mack signs an offer sheet elsewhere, but would receive nothing in the way of compensation if he walks where as a franchise tag would have garnered at least something in the way of two first-round draft picks.
The transition tag for centers is roughly $1.5 million cheaper than the franchise tag, but a $10 million is still be a huge total for a center if he does not get an offer that forces the Browns’ hand. The Browns can continue to negotiate with Mack in the meantime, opting to lift the tag at any point if they so choose.
This move, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, will place safety TJ Ward on the free agent market. The Buffalo Bills reportedly remain interested in working out a deal with safety Jarius Byrd, but they did not use any of their tags on the 27-year-old Pro Bowl free safety. The Browns, after this move, have roughly $47 million in cap space.
Image via Scott Sargent/WFNY