Jimmy Haslam 'optimistic' on Alex Mack, likely to match any offer?

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Jimmy Haslam thinks Alex Mack will be with the Browns in 2014.
Jimmy Haslam thinks Alex Mack will be with the Browns in 2014. (USATSI)

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This offseason the Browns used the transition tag on center Alex Mack. It's created quite the tense situation, with the Jaguars potentially interested in poaching Mack via an offer sheet.

Jacksonville could certainly craft a difficult-to-match sheet but owner Jimmy Haslam, at an "orange carpet" event for Draft Day, said he expects Mack to be a Brown "for a long time."

"We remain optimistic that Alex Mack will be a Cleveland Brown for a long time," Haslam told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "We want him to be. I think we've made it very clear that he's the kind of person, the kind of player we want in our organization."

So what about, specifically, the rumors the Browns would match any offer that the Jaguars try to work for Mack?

"We want Alex to be a Cleveland Brown," Haslam said smiling.

That's what we call a "hint," in that Haslam doesn't care what the cost is, the Browns will be retaining Mack.

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas also hinted that Mack would be back in 2014, pointing out "there's no doubt" Mack will be in Cleveland for another year.

"Well, there's no doubt that he will be here at least this year," Thomas said. "I think that's for certain. I certainly hope we can sign him to a long-term deal and keep him here for much longer than I'm here."

Mack doesn't want to stick around Cleveland, which is what makes this process so difficult for the Browns. They're on the hook for $10 million in guaranteed money for 2014 alone if he ends up staying in Cleveland on the transition tag.

That number could skyrocket depending on what kind of offer sheet the Jags -- or any other team -- crafts for Mack. Haslam and Thomas can be confident but this isn't the last we've seen of the contractual drama surrounding Cleveland's center.

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