After opting out of the five-year contract he received from the Cleveland Browns in 2014, offensive lineman Alex Mack signed with the Atlanta Falcons after the new league began on Wednesday. The deal will average $9.5 million per year on the five-year deal, which is $500,000 less per year than Mack could have averaged with the Browns, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated.
Mack had an opt-out clause in the deal because it was written by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were trying to make the contract unappealing to the Browns. Cleveland had the right to match any offer made for Mack after it used the transition tag on him. The team could have used the franchise tag, but opted for the transition tag instead.
The Browns matched the offer regardless, but Mack exercised the opt-out clause after making $18 million guaranteed over the first two seasons of the five-year deal. The final three years would pay him $24 million and Mack, one of the top centers in the league, felt that he could get more money on the open market. There was always the possibility of the Browns opening up the checkbook and retaining him in the end, though.
Mike Pouncey signed a five-year, $44.75 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, likely considered a baseline for a new deal by Mack, who is either on or above Pouncey's level at the end of the day.
Mack suffered a broken fibula in 2014 that required surgery to repair and missed 11 games that season. But he returned just as strong as ever last season and started all 16 games for the Browns.
In Atlanta, Mack reunites with Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2014. King said that Mack's relationship with Shanahan was a factor in his decision to agree to terms with the Falcons. Mack fills a significant need for the Falcons. Mike Person, the starting center in Atlanta last season, struggled mightily in 2015 with botched snaps and poor blocking. Mack is an instant upgrade for the Falcons and will provide some necessary stability on the interior line.