According to a ESPN Cleveland report the Cleveland Browns are interested in re-signing Alex Mack after earlier reports that the team wants to extend Joe Haden and re-sign TJ Ward. This is the first report of the Browns going hard after Mack. Most expectations were that the Browns would tag TJ Ward and let Mack walk, some rumored Mack to Tampa Bay with a big contract. The Browns can continue to negotiate with Ward and Mack and possibly Franchise tag one of them if they re-sign the other. That would give the team leverage on the other player. What does it mean for the Browns:
Ray Farmer is focused on getting talent. Mack is one of the top players at his position and while not perfect, would cause a big hole in the middle of the offensive line. Attempting to re-sign both free agents and extend Haden would keep the core talent of the team together. With Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Jordan Cameron and Brian Hoyer are all free agents next year so keeping talent that is on the team will continue to be important for the team. Just assuming younger, cheaper talent or talent from other teams, is better then your talent keeps turnover strong.
By extending Haden and keeping Mack and Ward the team would spend a good amount on those 3 players. The team could front load contracts, which would chew up this year’s cap space but preserve future cap. This could lead to a much smaller spending spree then fans have wanted this year. With a great deal of young talent, especially high draft picks, the team will have to keep flexibility in the next coming years.
The Zone Blocking Scheme is coming to Cleveland via Kyle Shanahan. This writer is not a line expert but many report that smaller, agile players on the line is fitting. Mack fits that. He is a smart player with speed and quickness but lacks brute strength. The ZBS could benefit players like Mack. The question is whether a cheaper alternative would fit just as well. Are linemen replaceable the same way running backs are in the ZBS?
All and all the team looking to keep their talent, ala the Steelers or Ravens, is a good sign. That it might cut into the spending spree many fans want could disappoint but may be best for the team. What would you think of extending Haden, bringing Mack and Ward back and maybe 2 small additions instead of bringing in a couple big name players but losing either Mack or Ward?