Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack visited the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, and there are ongoing conversations between the two sides, a league source confirmed today, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.
Mack, 28, had dinner with Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley on Friday night, the Florida Times-Union reported. He left this morning.
After failing to reach a long-term deal with Mack, the Browns placed a transition tag on him in March. If Mack signs the tag, he'll play for the Browns next season under a one-year, $10.039 million deal that would make him the highest-paid center in the NFL by about $2 million.
Mack, though, has made it clear that he’s in no rush to sign the tag and wants to explore opportunities with other teams. His visit with the Jaguars is the first known meeting he’s had with another organization.
The Jaguars have yet to sign Mack to an offer sheet. If they do, the Browns would have five days to match it and secure Mack. The Browns would not receive any draft-pick compensation if Mack leaves them.
Last month, Mack’s lead agent, Marvin Demoff, told Sports Illustrated that he’s confident he could craft an offer the Browns wouldn’t want to match.
The Browns have $30.8 million in salary cap space, most in the league, according to the NFL Players Association. But with $25.1 million in cap space, the Jaguars have the ability to create a tough decision for the Browns.
The Browns desperately want to lock Mack into a long-term deal. Before they tagged him, a large contingent headlined by owner Jimmy Haslam, General Manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine visited Mack in California in an attempt to strike a deal.
“We were very frank. We want him to finish his career with the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said last month at the NFL owners meetings. “Alex has some choices to make. At the end of the day, I think that’s what he’ll decide. But that’s obviously his decision.”
Mack, who was voted to the Pro Bowl last season, has played all 4,998 snaps since the Browns drafted him in the first round (21st overall) in 2009 out of the University of California. ProFootballFocus.com ranked the 6-foot-4, 311-pound Mack fourth among all NFL centers last season, when he was named second-team All Pro.