April 21, 2014

2014 NFL Draft, Manziel vs. Bridgewater, Kipnis tossed, and Madden ratings… While We’re Waiting

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Jason Kipnis gets tossed and makes lip-readers blush.  The Tribe lost yesterday, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some fireworks. Jason Kipnis must have used some language that the umpire found inappropriate.

Kipnis’ account sounds tame.

Said the Indians second baseman: “I didn’t think I showed him up. I didn’t try to stand there. I’m not here to show the guy up. I was just walking away and I told him that the first pitch changed the entire at-bat and you don’t need to be helping a guy like that out. Obviously, I used a couple words to express [myself], but that’s the full sense of what I said.”

But, whatever he actually did say, it looked like this when the umpire emphatically tossed him from the game.

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Johnny Manziel is coming to work out in Cleveland this weekend. I know I’m a bit of a broken record on this, but please please please let the Browns find a good reason to draft this kid. Please let him tell you everything you need to know that says his attitude, skills and potential equal what the Browns are looking for as the next dominant starting NFL quarterback. Please let it be so. I don’t know enough to say that’s the case, but if it worked out that way and he’s available and has the ability to translate his wildly entertaining college skills into success on the next stage it will be so good for all of us.

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There’s something about Teddy Bridgewater that makes me unsure of him. He didn’t play the best competition in the country, but that’s not it. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Teddy had a good career with Louisville. He appears to be a even-keeled, smart kid. I think I finally figured it out. I think Teddy Bridgewater is an introvert. I think he’s a little on the meek side and those things are probably what’s stuck out to me as something that will keep him from being a dominant player at QB at the next level. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but it just seems to me that he might not be capable of being the kind of leader I imagine succeeding in an NFL huddle. Maybe that’s just his YouTube interviews with the media and he relates better to his teammates, but it gives me pause.

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“What do you mean the Browns’ defense is rated at 78?! It should be at least an 82!” Travis Benjamin is fast, but he doesn’t think he’s fast enough… in Madden. Rick told us recently that the Madden people were in Cleveland getting data on Browns players for the latest version of the franchise football video game. Well, there’s a follow-up on the Browns official webpage. Travis Benjamin is among some Browns players who think they should have higher ratings. Apparently the 98 that the game’s designers gave him for his “speed” rating wasn’t perfectly high enough for his tastes.

“I should be the fastest guy in the game,” exclaimed Benjamin, who was tabbed with a 98 speed rating in last year’s version of the game. After hearing the power Moore has, Benjamin even tweeted him to convince the producer his case. Benjamin plays the game several times a week online with teammates Phil Taylor, Greg Little and Dion Lewis.

I love this fun little story about video games and NFL players. If their giant contracts and larger-than-life personas distance themselves from fans, this is the exact kind of thing that brings them closer together. I can remember year after year with my own (sometimes delusional) hopes for the Browns fueling outrage when I’d look at a Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy or even a Brandon Weeden player rating and wish it was higher.

Let’s hope they get Johnny Football’s rating appropriately high after he becomes the next Browns quarterback. Can you imagine scrambling all over your TV with him? (I know. I’m a broken record… errr… faltering MP3 player?)

*****

Coming of age as a rock fan… On Monday night I went to see that band I told you about last week, Mansions. They played at the Grog Shop and it was a really great show, but something funny happened that I wanted to tell you about.

In November I drove all the way to Pittsburgh to see the same band headline a show. Because it was in a small club, I was able to buy some of the band’s merch and also meet them. That’s one of the things I love most about small clubs and meeting the bands that generally play there. They are real regular people and very nice to meet before or after they play.

Anyway, fast forward to this past Monday and I was in the Grog Shop and it occurred to me just how much older I was than everyone else there. I was surrounded by kids who had their hands stamped as being under 21 years old. As I was waiting for the music to start, it occurred to me that many of these kids must have been born in the mid to late 90′s when I was well on my way to finishing high school. That’s mildly depressing, but whatever. I was at a rock show and loving it at age 35. No biggie, right?

Well, after the show, I went over to say hello to the band before leaving and Christopher Browder, the lead singer, recognized me. “Hey! I remember you! You were in Pittsburgh!” Now, that kind of floored me. Out of all the people that he has met since being on tour in 2013-14, he remembered me. We’re talking about a band that has played more than 25 shows in the past 30 days alone. And trust me when I tell you that he really did remember me. He wasn’t just putting it on, I’m quite sure.

But it doesn’t make sense to me that anyone would remember me. I’m a really plain-looking kind of guy. I don’t have a lot of defining characteristics that make me stick out. I have no piercings or tattoos or wild hair. When I go to rock shows I wear jeans, t-shirts, maybe a nondescript sweatshirt or hoodie.

And then it hit me. I do stick out. You know what the one defining characteristic of me is in that setting? I’m old. In my mind I’m still just like the same guy I was in my mid twenties, but that’s not what my increasing number of grey hairs broadcast to the world.

Ah well. What’re you going to do, stop living?  Well, someday, yes, but not anytime soon.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Mel Kiper Mock has Manziel to Browns, Bridgewater to Round 2

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Fans of Johnny Manziel will be happy with the latest from Mel Kiper Jr. Though laced with caveats, the fluffy-haired draftnik’s latest mock not only has the Cleveland Browns selecting the first quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, but making that player one Johnny Football, the polarizing passer out of Texas A&M, with the trio of South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney, Auburn’s Greg Robinson and Clemson’s Sammy Watkins going first, second and third, respectively.

Manziel is not my top-rated QB, but he is the QB I believe (right now) is likeliest to go this high, as I believe a team like Cleveland, with a number of draft assets and a QB on the roster it feels can create a bridge to a young starter, is in a good scenario to take a chance on Manziel’s ceiling. The Browns owning the No. 26 pick as well as an early second-rounder gives them a chance to take a player like Watkins here if available and consider a QB later, but this is how I see it as of right now.

Regarding the other quarterbacks, Kiper has UCF’s Blake Bortles going eighth to the Minnesota Vikings, but the “Big 3″ officially becomes the “Big 2 and Derek Carr” (as many had been hinting) with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater falling to the first pick on the second day, leading to quite the haul for the Houston Texans. Carr was nabbed 2oth overall by the Arizona Cardinals.

For the Browns’ second first-round selection, Kiper jumps aboard the cornerback bandwagon and pegs Cleveland with Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller.

Depending on which game you’re watching, you could walk away thinking Fuller is as good as or better than any cornerback in this draft, and the Browns can take him expecting a player who will contribute early at a position where they lack enough depth behind Joe Haden. Fuller has good size at 6 feet tall, and not only plays fast, but gets off the ground well to challenge high-point throws against taller pass-catchers. If Cleveland goes another route at No. 4, this is obviously a slot where the Browns could go with a QB.

And to help quench the thirst of the wideout-hungry fans, Kiper closes things out with Fresno State’s Davante Adams being taken with the team’s second-round selection. Adams is a 6-foot-1-inch, sure-handed athlete who helped Carr get bumped in to the top 20.

Consensus appears to have Cleveland pegged with some combination of a quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback and offensive lineman being taken very early. While there will likely be countless mocks to unfold between today and the NFL Draft, it appears that the Browns should leave the second day with at least three of four needs having been tackled.

(Photo: Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY Sports)

AJ McCarron will conduct private workout for the Browns

AJ McCarron wins, people

All I do is win win win…

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron will reportedly host a private workout for the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, this according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Oh, boy. People may want to talk about his girlfriend, but get a load of this guy’s body. At 6-feet-4-inches and 220 pounds with 10-inch hands, McCarron possesses the size and stature needed to be a durable quarterback in the NFL. This kid can take—a—hit. He may only have decent arm strength that may require a crow hop to get the ball down field, but this guy…he is a mature, high-motor guy who does nothing but win. He won two—not one, TWO—National Championships while with the Crimson Tide. He’s been labled a ‘game manager,’ but he’ll be the first to tell you that he brings way more to the table. 

McCarron has all the inangibles. He’s a very confident player, yet he’ll put in that extra work in the film room! He was a Human Environmental Science major! He’s one of the few guys I know that has tattoos and bow ties—I mean, I know guys that have bow ties and I know guys that have tattoos; I don’t know many guys that have both. This kid can make all the throws—OK, some of them. But he’s done nothing but win.

[Related: Calling out the worst of all NFL draft clichés]

Browns among teams showing most interest in Michael Sam

In a story that will be bound to pick up steam as the 2014 NFL Draft nears, sources tell the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson that the Ravens, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns are showing the most interest in Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.

Sam was one of the more anticipated players to take to this winter’s NFL Combine, but turned in a sluggish workout where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds, had just a 25-inch vertical leap and bench pressed 225 pounds just 17 times. Sam did, however, improve on his numbers during his campus Pro Day workout at Missouri, running the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds, leaping 30 inches bench pressing 225 pounds 19 times.

As a senior with the Tigers, Sam amassed 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses and was named a first-team All-American and a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection. The 6-foot-2, 256-pound college defensive end struggled during the Senior Bowl during outside linebacker drills as he attempts to transition to a new position.

Given the NFL teams listed, it appears that Sam is pegged to fit in mostly as an edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, projects to be a third-day selection who will likely have to thrive on special teams to make a 53-man roster.

Browns to work out Johnny Manziel this weekend per report

nfldraftThe Browns didn’t use one of their official interviews on Johnny Manziel during the NFL combine. Then they were one of just two teams in the NFL not to send a representative to Manziel’s pro day.

This weekend the Browns will get their chance with Johnny Football.

According to Adam Caplan, Manziel is next up to visit the Browns.

The Browns have the fourth and twenty-sixth picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

Currently, the Browns have Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney as the only quarterbacks on the roster.

[Related: The worst NFL draft cliches]

Calling out the worst of all NFL draft clichés

2012 NFL Draft

Leading up to an NFL draft, there are a lot of hackneyed conversations that will drive a fan absolutely crazy. It seems that some fans want to rely on simplistic rules to simplify the NFL draft for themselves. It’s a coping mechanism to help deal with the fact that most fans have do not possess nearly enough information to truly decide what their team needs or how they should build for the future. It’s not an indictment of fans to not know, but it is an indictment for fans who pretend like they do.

Know what, exactly? It’s infuriating this time of year, but how many fans do you come across — at the bar, calling sports talk radio or on Twitter — who think of themselves as the only one qualified to run the war room of their favorite football team? Imagine every nugget of their “wisdom” being delivered with a confident, smug smile that says, “I just know I’m right.” Instead of looking at each team like a complex system that needs lots of different pieces, we get a lot of vague, simplistic misconceptions. And with that, here are my least favorite draft clichés.

[Read more...]

Good riddance, Cavs season: While We’re Waiting

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Yet another uninspired crawl to the finish. We shouldn’t be surprised. This isn’t unique to the Cavaliers, necessarily. Teams in April playoff chases who get eliminated often coast to the end of the season. But just because it’s not surprising, it doesn’t make the end of this Cavaliers season any less disappointing. Above all else, that’s the word that defines this season more than any other. Disappointing. With a little frustration on the side.

This season couldn’t have been set up any better for the Cavaliers. For the first time in NBA history, the Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks all missed the playoffs. The Eastern Conference was historically bad. And yet even in this environment the Cavaliers couldn’t make the playoffs. They weren’t even all that close. With one game left to play the Cavaliers are 5.5 games out of the 8 seed. An 8 seed with a losing record. Six games under .500, to be exact. It demonstrates just how firmly entrenched at the kids’ table this team really is. [Read more...]

AFC North coach compared Bridgewater to fictional character. One in four it was a Browns coach.

NCAA Football: Louisville at West VirginiaMaking it’s way around the internet on Monday is this story from Matt Miller, whose twitter handle is @NFLDraftScout and who is a lead contributor for Bleacher Report. The story is that an NFL head coach compared Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to…

Yep. Willie Beaman. Don’t go searching Pro Football Reference for his stats. Beaman was the character from the movie Any Given Sunday.

So Miller says that an AFC North coach was the one that made this comparison. There’s only four. Chances it was Harbaugh or Tomlin seem slim to me, you?

Deadspin is saying what we’re all probably thinking:

“It’s the Browns, right? It can’t not be the Browns.”

Sigh. Yep. It is probably the Browns.

UPDATE: Yes, good eye. Not necessarily a Head coach. Which opens things up a bit.

[Related: Could Bridgewater slide into day two of NFL draft?]

Could Teddy Bridgewater slide into Day 2 of NFL Draft?

 NCAA Football: Louisville at West Virginia

The pendulum appears to be swinging in the opposite direction—and quickly. It wasn’t long ago that mock drafts had the “Big 3″ quarterbacks all being selected within the first four picks. Today, headlines are screaming that not only will this not be the case, but one of the quarterbacks may not even be selected on the NFL Draft’s first day.

Profootballtalk’s Michael David Smith is “hearing more talk” in league circles that the draft stock of this year’s top-rated quarterbacks is “dropping.” SI.com’s Peter King added fuel to this fire in his MMQB column, stating the Browns—along with the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Oakland Raiders—are “strongly considering” passing on QBs at the top of the draft, “and waiting until their second or third selections.” Many pundits are grouping Derek Carr, Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage, Jimmy Garoppolo, and A.J. McCarron as a second tier that doesn’t have as big of a drop from the first as in years past.

In 2013, it was West Virginia’s Geno Smith who went from Top-10 lock to a second-day selection in a matter of days. Bortles and Manziel appear to be first-round locks as they haven’t given much reason for a slide. With a dreadful Pro Day and lukewarm grades being handed out to quarterbacks, could Teddy Bridgewater be the next to follow suit? Reports are circulating that even Bridgewater’s private workouts have been shaky. This would be the kind of fall that if it were to happen in a fantasy draft, two-thirds of the league would be Googling for unbeknownst injury news; the other third would be using last year’s magazine.

Photo: Andrew Weber-US

Photos: EA Sports in town getting Browns players “In the game”

Long snapper Christian Yount and newly signed defensive back Isaiah Trufant took to social media after getting their faces digitized for the upcoming edition of the Madden franchise- Madden 2015. The guys seemed to have gotten more than just their mugs pixelated. It looks like there was a goodie bag for each as well.

Figures. The guys who have the money to blow on video games get the free ones. Go figure.

Trufant

Update: More players getting the Madden treatment.

Justin Staples

Justin Staples (Custom)

Tori Gurley

https://twitter.com/TGurley81/status/455767255645945856

Browns adding former Bengal fullback Chris Pressley?

Thomas PressleyIf Chris Pressley can return to form from a knee injury that cost him the 2013 season, he could be in for a treat in Cleveland.

This town loves them some fullbacks.

According to Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com (who by the way, does a really good job covering Browns news for the Beacon Journal) the Browns have signed the free agent fullback. Pressley was cut by the Bengals back in December. Pressley began the season on the PUP list after suffering a season ending knee injury back in 2012.

Pressley was a college teammate of Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas at Wisconsin. Thomas’ senior year was Pressley’s sophomore season. Pressley was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

The Browns offense under Kyle Shanahan will likely use more of a traditional fullback than the offense used last season under Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner.

[Related: Nate's room now resides in Cleveland]

The Browns could have been trading with the Jets in Draft Day movie

Draft DayI’m not spoiling Draft Day when I say that it involves some wheeling and dealing for draft picks in and around the NFL Draft. I’m also not spoiling anything when I say that the Seattle Seahawks were the trade partner with Kevin Costner and the Browns regarding a presumed number one draft pick quarterback. What I found out today, though, is that originally the Browns were supposed to be fictionally trading with the New York Jets instead of the Seattle Seahawks.

“They were having something of a quarterback dispute, and the team said that this is just going to incite our fans a little more to criticize us, even though it’s all fictional,” director Ivan Reitman said.

So let me get this straight. The team that continually gets booed live and in person every single year no matter who they draft has a thin skin about how a fictional movie about the NFL draft could impact real world criticism of their team? Seems a little bit thin-skinned for a group of professionals who work in the NFL.

Then again, I don’t know what I’d be like if I had to go through this kind of reaction every time I did anything at my job. See how Radio City Music Hall reacted to the Jets trading up with the Browns and subsequently drafting Mark Sanchez.

Gotta love the Mike Mayock quote on the broadcast too. “We don’t yet know what they (the Jets) gave up to get here, but I’m pretty much willing to bet ultimately it’s going to be worth it.” Well, the Browns just signed Alex Mack to a new deal and the Jets cut Mark Sanchez. What do you think now Mr. Mayock?

Alex Mack saying the right things about Browns matching his deal

Alex Mack is saying all the right things about his new contract and his relationship with the Cleveland Browns. If you expected anything less, well you haven’t paid much attention to Mack’s career.

Talking with Cleveland.com on Saturday, Mack said he is happy to still be in Cleveland.

“It’s been a long, hard road, but I’m here and I’m happy, I’m excited. I’m fired up. There’s no bad blood. Now that it’s done, I’m happy.”

When asked about the reports that he wanted out of Cleveland, Mack said “I don’t believe I ever said that.”

“Contracts are tough. It’s the business side of things and as a player my job is to play football, something I’m good at. I have agents (Marvin Demoff and Tim Younger) to do the business side of things, and it’s not always easy, but I’m happy with where I’m at.”

Alex Mack is a smart person and a smart player. This negotiating period was all about money and options. If I were a betting man, I would bet that Mack’s camp wanted the opt-out after two years but Cleveland was reluctant to include it. Once Jacksonville made the offer, the Browns were quick to match however.

That’s my guess. Not reporting it as fact.

[Related: Details of Jaguars offer to Mack]

Mack is back as Browns match Jaguars offer

So, you remember that whole Alex Mack contract situation? You see the Browns used the “transition tag” which means…

Oh never mind. I’m not going back through all this again. Alex Mack is back. He’ll be back for at least two years and probably three. He’ll be the highest paid center too at $42 million over five years. If you want to know any more, search our archives.

“Nate’s Room” now resides in Cleveland

Nate Burleson
Nate Burleson, a 32-year-old wide receiver, signed a one-year deal with the Browns, a team (hopefully) on the rise. But how exactly did that deal come about? We went straight to the source.

[Read more...]

Draft Day, Hawk Harrelson, Alex Mack, Super Tall High School Kid and Mansions live at the Grog Shop… While We’re Waiting

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I set a Google Calendar reminder so that I wouldn’t forget to do WWW this week. Let’s hope that works from here on out. Now on with the WWW.

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I saw Draft Day last night, and here are my initial thoughts. Don’t worry. I will save you any and all spoilers. This isn’t a great achievement in cinema, but sports movies and summer popcorn flicks don’t have to be. This movie would be a full on failure if it was about any other topic but sports. Sports movies always have a special license and leeway because they’re about a topic that many of us are already pre-disposed to enjoy. Even still, Draft Day isn’t a great sports movie. It’s alright. Here in Cleveland because it’s about our team it’s like a B+. In the rest of the country where it’s not about other NFL fans’ teams it’s a C-.

There were a few jokes and light moments that mostly fell flat. Some of the quirky characters that were supposed to provide relief, really didn’t achieve it. I thought Denis Leary was probably the best part and even with my criticisms, every Browns fan should see it and will probably enjoy it. Come on. It’s about the NFL draft. That’s our annual Super Bowl, you know other than that real Super Bowl that other teams seem to compete for on occasion.

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Finally, we can talk about the Cleveland Indians and race and it has nothing to do with Chief Wahoo. As Deadspin pointed out in their post with video, White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson had some pretty interesting things to say about the Tribe’s reliever, C.C. Lee after he entered the game last night.

After Lee threw a “nasty slider,” Harrelson called it a “typical Asian motion” before tagging it with, “Deception involved.”

Can you imagine either the Indians’ radio or TV crews saying anything like that? Yes, Tom Hamilton was in the spotlight after a brush back pitch at Nick Swisher by Aroldis Chapman last year, but it’s hard to imagine just the same.

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Of course the talk of the day here in Cleveland will be Alex Mack. It might be too much talk for the topic. Andy Baskin has been quite level-headed on the topic on 92.3 the Fan. His sentiments have included that as soon as this reaches its conclusion nobody will talk about it anymore and he’s exactly right. NFL center is one of those positions that nobody knows anything about unless the guy is tossing the ball over his QB’s head all the time or committing penalties. Nearly nobody I know would know whether Alex Mack had a good season or not without the benefit of Pro Football Focus.

On top of all that, we need to remember what we don’t know. The Browns were all set to pay Mack just over $10 million for 2014 with the transition tag. The deal makes Alex Mack the league’s top paid center. That can be misleading though. There are so many different variables at play here. Most notably, the salary cap has grown and is expected to continue to grow. So, while $18 million is always going to be $18 million, it shrinks in impact on the team as the salary cap increases.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether the Browns decide to match the deal or not. Only they know via their longer range projections whether this is a good idea for them. Only they know their own confidence level in replacing Alex Mack if he were to depart. Even the most plugged in Browns fans with extensive cap knowledge can go so far as to say if it’s a “good” idea or not.

I think my preference would still be for the Browns to bring Mack back, but absent that extra layer of intel, that preference isn’t worth a whole lot. My preferences are also based on the fact that I have no idea whether John Greco can play center at a fraction of the price or not. I suspect the Browns have a better feeling for that matter, among others.

*****

It might not seem fair, but it makes for a heck of a YouTube highlight video. I bring you the 7’5″ tall high school player highlight mix tape including sweet croakies to hold on his glasses. He’s everything that State Farm wanted their stupid commercial to be with Chris Paul, except the guy with glasses is awkward and plays basketball.

*****

Last, but certainly not least, I’m really excited to go see Mansions again live next week. This time instead of road-tripping to Pittsburgh I get to see them play live and in the comfortable confines of the Grog Shop. They are opening up for La Dispute, who are also sure to be good. Still, I’m only in that door because of Mansions. Here’s my favorite song from their newest album Doom Loop. It’s a live version.

Have a really nice weekend everyone and stay tuned for a podcast with @sportsyelling that I’ll be recording soon!

Details of Jaguars offer to Alex Mack reported

According to numerous reports, but first by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Alex Mack is about to become the highest paid center in the NFL.

Whether he plays for the Jaguars or Browns is still undetermined.

What we can gather is that Jacksonville’s offer includes $18 million guaranteed over the first two years of the deal. After 2015 there is an option for Mack to void the rest of the deal. If he does void the remaining contract, he cannot be tagged with the transition or franchise player designation no matter whether he plays for the Jaguars or if the Browns match the deal.

The 2016 season is worth $8 million according to FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo.

The total of the deal is believed to be $42 million dollars. That averages out to $8.4 million and makes Mack the highest paid center in the league. He is 28 years old and has never missed a snap in his NFL career.

The Browns will have five days to match when he signs the offer sheet, believed to be tomorrow.

[Related: Browns reportedly ready to match whatever offer for Mack]

Browns reportedly ready to match Mack’s offer “in no time at all”

Mack

Sad Alex.

Less than 24 hours after reporting that the Jacksonville Jaguars may have themselves a shiny new Pro Bowl center, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has hedged his bets with a report that the Cleveland Browns will match the Jags’ offer in “no time at all.”

Jacksonville’s offer was reportedly designed to make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match. Also a factor is that Mack appears to desire any NFL city aside from Cleveland. But much to the center’s chagrin, Ray Farmer’s front office has the most cap space in the entire league and appears willing to use it in order to retain one of the game’s best centers. Per ESPNCleveland’s Tony Grossi, the team is well aware of Mack’s feelings, but is not about to set a precedent about disgruntled players getting to take their talents elsewhere. Not to mention: Mack is a stud.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reports Alex Mack’s five-year offer sheet with the Jaguars will make him the NFL’s highest paid center. Specific terms still haven’t been released, but Carolina’s Ryan Kalil is currently the NFL’s richest center, recently inking a six-year, $49 million contract. That deal contained $28 million guaranteed, including an $18 million signing bonus.

Joe Haden, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron (among others) are going to command a raise at some point, but the Browns appear willing to cross those bridges upon arrival. By all accounts, Mack is going to cost the Browns at least $18 million in guarantees over the next two seasons, making him the game’s highest-paid center. How the fans react to his off-season antics, however, may be a completely different story.

Photo: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Jimmy Haslam stops just short of guaranteeing Alex Mack will be back

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The Cleveland Browns are in the news today because many associated with the team were on the “orange carpet” last night for a local premier of Kevin Costner’s Draft Day movie. Mary Kay Cabot was there as well and she got some comments from Jimmy Haslam that back up much of what we’ve all been thinking recently about Alex Mack and his situation as a transition tag-ee.

“We remain optimistic that Alex Mack will be a Cleveland Brown for a long time,” Haslam said on the “orange carpet” at the local premiere of Draft Day at Cinemark Valley View theaters. “We want him to be. I think we’ve made it very clear that he’s the kind of person, the kind of player we want in our organization.’

Asked specifically if he’d match any offer the Jaguars concoct, he smiled and said, “We want Alex to be a Cleveland Brown.”

Obviously that last sentence isn’t a guarantee that he’ll match any offer, but it’s characteristically confident for Jimmy Haslam and indicates to me that he agrees with the rest of us. There’s very little possibility of Alex Mack signing an offer sheet that would be unpalatable to the Cleveland Browns. The bottom line is that Alex Mack can’t get a team to sign up for something that they wouldn’t also be prepared to live with themselves. This is the beauty of a salary-capped world. There’s no Yankees offer out there that’s 30% higher because a team can just afford more than the Browns.

And for that reduced flexibility and lack of free will, Alex Mack guarantees that he’ll get paid at least $10 million. We’re talking about a man who has made somewhere around $14.5 million over the first five years of his career. Of course he wants more guaranteed money and maybe even a chance to play somewhere else, but the trade-off isn’t that much of a hostage situation with the transition tag compensation.

[Related : Alex Mack wants to play for a passionate fan base, visits Jacksonville]

Alex Mack might have missed the party

Mack

Four weeks ago, before millions and millions of NFL free agency dollars were committed, Alex Mack’s agent got boastful with Peter King who wrote it up for his MMQB column. It caused anyone with half a memory for the NFL to go searching for rule books and articles in Google with the keyword “poison pill” as the discerning criteria. And as a thousand Internet researchers hit the enter key to confirm their inklings that “poison pill” contracts were illegal, it was easy to imagine Mack’s agent sitting somewhere with his eyes shut tightly and with his fingers crossed that somehow he could will the reality of the situation away. It’s hard to conclude anything other than the notion that Alex Mack wants out of Cleveland, but it’s even harder to conclude that he’ll find his way out this year.

[Read more...]