CLEVELAND — Alex Mack has snapped the ball into the Browns’ court.
The three-time Pro Bowl center has voided the final three years of his contract and will become a free agent, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday. He will be eligible to sign with other teams when NFL free agency opens on March 9, but Mack can still re-sign with the Browns and that is “very possible,” said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Mack had until Friday to opt out of his contract.
One of the league’s best interior linemen, Mack was set to make $24 million over the next three years on the deal he signed with the Browns in 2014.
Cleveland’s front office and coaching staff view Mack as one of the team’s leaders and would hate to see the 30-year-old leave. He recently met with new coach Hue Jackson to discuss the team’s plans going forward.
Mack has expressed his desire to play for a winning team and he’s yet to experience that in Cleveland as the Browns are just 33-79 since he arrived in 2009. However, Mack has roots in Cleveland. He likes the area, has grown close to several teammates and could wind up playing with fellow California alum Jared Goff, a quarterback the Browns are considering with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Mack was able to secure a five-year, $42 million contract, which included $18 million guaranteed, from the Browns two years ago after the club used the transition tag on him. Jacksonville signed Mack to an offer sheet, which the Browns matched.
Mack’s value to the Browns was never more evident than in 2014 when he broke his leg early in the season and missed 11 games. Without Mack, Cleveland’s offense fell apart.