That's the word from an NFL Insider familiar with the workings of NFL contracts, a wise individual with no agenda who noticed Wednesday's post on Mack's contract that detailed the Browns can get out of the deal after three years, which the insider said is one year too late.
“The Browns can let him go after two years if they want,” said wise individual said. “There's nothing stopping them.”
Why would the Browns do that? They wouldn't if Mack is healthy and playing well and they can afford him. But if he's slipped at all and the team's cap situation is tighter, Mack would be 30 and he'd have given the Browns seven good years.
At that point, the wise and unbiased individual said, it may be a good time to force a pay cut or cut ties.
Mack played his first five years on a rookie deal that paid him a reported $14.6 million, or an average of $2.92 million. The first two years of this new deal will pay him $10 million and $8 million guaranteed, which the wise individual said is way too high for a center.
But it means Mack will make $4.6 million per year for seven years, which the wise individual described as good for a center from a team standpoint.
Especially a Pro Bowl center.
Mack does have an injury protection guarantee for the third year, meaning if he's hurt in the second year and can't pass a physical for 2016 he is paid the $8 million.
But Mack has been healthy, so when the third year of the deal rolls around it may well come down to another negotiation. Mack may wish to stay in Cleveland, the Browns may wish to give him a pay cut. Mack may balk, or he may feel so good about the team at that point he may go along. The flip side is true as well; Mack may be playing so well the Browns may accept another year at $8 million. And Mack himself can void the final three years if he chooses to do so.
Bottom line: There will be another negotiation after the 2015 season.
The decision becomes the team's completely in the final two years, with roster bonuses of $2 million prior to 2017 and '18.
The Browns assured themselves of keeping Mack until he's 30, and Mack will become a wealthy young man.
But, as this insider said, it's a clear win for the Browns.