Losing season after losing season had to affect Alex Mack's decision

Falcons fortify OL by signing Mack (0:45)

Adam Schefter breaks down how former Browns center Alex Mack will contribute right away for the Falcons after signing a deal with Atlanta to become the highest paid center in the NFL. (0:45)

This is a fact: The Cleveland Browns went 29-72 in the games that Alex Mack started.

This is also a fact: Mack went to the Pro Bowl in two of the past three seasons.

He now will play in Atlanta, as the Browns lost their second free agent before free agency even started.

Receiver Travis Benjamin (San Diego) and Mack (Atlanta) both are going elsewhere.

That takes us back to the end of the 2015 season, when Jimmy Haslam explained his new front office. Then, Haslam said the Browns would undergo "a several-year" rebuild. As if that phrase has not been used before in Cleveland.

Seeing two good players walk does not make the Browns better.

Reports had the Browns actually offering Mack more money than Atlanta, with him choosing the Falcons. That had to be a reflection on the style of offense Atlanta plays -- Kyle Shanahan's zone-read system -- and on the effects of constant losing in Cleveland.

Mack is not the reason the Browns went 29-72 in his tenure. If all the players on the team were as good he was, the Browns wouldn't have gone 29-72.

Mack, though, had to suffer through losing season after losing season, coaching change after coaching change. He got sick of it, and understandably so.

He earned the right to pick his team, and he chose Atlanta over Cleveland.

The Falcons are taking a risk giving a reported five-year, $42 million contract to a center who will be 31 this season. But Mack is a good player. And 3-13 teams don't get better losing their good players.

The Browns will find a replacement. Rumors already point to Stefen Wisniewski taking his place. Wisniewski was in Oakland with coach Hue Jackson, and he'll be far less expensive than Mack.

You can argue that the Browns weren't very good with Benjamin, Mack, Mitchell Schwartz and Tashaun Gipson, and they still might not be very good without them.

But perhaps one reason the Browns continually struggle is they tread water with a revolving door of players coming in and players going out. For the third offseason in a row, the team will see some of its good players about to hit their prime leave to play elsewhere.

At some point the trend has to stop.