The Jacksonville Jaguars took a big chance, knowning that if they signed Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack to an offer sheet, there was a good bet the home team would match anything on the table.
Cleveland did just that.
Jim Corbett of USAToday.com reported that three hours after Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack signed a five-year, $42-million offer sheet with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Browns matched, locking up their two-time Pro Bowler for at least the next two seasons.
"I'm excited for both Alex and the Browns," Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement. "We have talked about keeping our own players and this is a positive for us. Alex is a quality person and player that truly brings to life what playing like a Brown means.
The Jaguars may have lost out on signing a top flight center in free agency, but the move put the NFL on notice this was a team that did not want to stand pat in free agency.
The five-year deal, which is worth $26 million guaranteed, includes an option for the 28-year-old Mack to void the final three years with the promise he cannot be tagged again, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports. Mack, who hasn't missed a start in 80 career games, received the $10.03 million transition tag before signing the offer sheet.
Jacksonville still has a hole at center to fill. Brad Meester, a 14-year veteran with the franchsie, retired after the 2013 season. The Browns had five days to match the offer made to Mack, but the organization decided to make the move to sign him as soon as possible.
Now, the Jaguars will focus on the May Draft and look to fill the need. It is believed they will look to draft a few offensive linemen who can play on the interior of the line.