As if the Cleveland Browns did not have anything else to worry about after firing one-and-done head coach Rob Chudzinski, now the team that looks like it doesn’t have a clue what it is doing must be concerned about losing its two most important free agents, TJ Ward and Alex Mack.
In my opinion. Mack, the center of the offensive line and one of the better centers in the NFL, is the most important free agent this team must retain.
The 6’4” 311-pound Mack is in the final year of his contract that paid him $3.7 million this season. He should get plenty of attention should he decide to test the market. But first, Mack, who was a first round pick in 2009, will listen to the Browns and give them first right to refuse his services.
According to Cleveland.com, Mack wants to return to the Browns, and will give the team right of first refusal if he hits the free agent market.
Asked if he'd give the Browns the chance to match or exceed any offer he receives in free agency, Mack said "Oh, absolutely.''
Should the Browns not be able to retain him, here are five teams who could look to sign him in free agency.
They are an obvious choice because Brad Meester just retired after 14 seasons. The belief is Uche Nwaneri or Mike Brewster could move in and replace the veteran. Both may also not be on the team’s roster in 2014. Mack in the middle with Luke Jockel at left tackle and maybe Jake Matthews at right tackle is a good way to start the season.
The biggest reason the Dolphins running game was awful and Ryan Tannehill was sacked more than any quarterback in the league was because of the offensive line. The Dolphins have a Pro Bowl center in Mike Pouncey but signing Mack could mean one of them move to guard. If the Dolphins sign Mack, then sets its sights on Greg Robinson, a tackle from Auburn, the line might be an improvement in May.
New England Patriots
This the proverbial need to add the Patriots into any free agent possibilities. Mack is a natural fit for this team and could help open bigger holes for Stevan Ridley. Also, this is the kind of move Bill Belichick would make to stockpile solid veterans to help give Tom Brady time in the pocket to pick apart opposing defenses.
This is another case of the line needs more help in Pittsburgh. Like Miami, they have a Pouncey at center. Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the season with a knee injury and could slide over to guard. Mack would be another piece to the puzzle on the line, where Mack, Pouncey David DeCastro would be an impressive start to rebuilding the front line.
Why not? The Raiders are a team with little talent and needs to better protect Darren McFadden and need to open big holes for the Raiders running back. I am not sure this is a great fit, but the Raiders need help in almost every position. I have always believed you put your best five linemen out there. Mack is better than any lineman on the roster.