Here's how the last few days played out for center Alex Mack, the Browns' 2009 first-round pick whom the team slapped with the transition tag last month: On Thursday, the Jaguars offered Mack a five-year, $42 million contract. By Friday, the Browns matched the offer, keeping Mack in Cleveland.
As for any concerns that Mack might have welcomed the chance to leave the Browns, he said Saturday that he's ecstatic to be in Cleveland.
"It's been a long, hard road, but I'm here and I'm happy,'' Mack told Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "I'm excited. I'm fired up. There's no bad blood. Now that it's done, I'm happy."
The details of Mack's new deal: $26 million guaranteed, including $18 million over the first two years. The Browns can't trade him until the 2017 season, and they can't use the franchise or transition tag after 2015. Mack also becomes the NFL's highest-paid center.
"It really gave me a lot of options as a player which is something that's not typical, but I'm happy both ways (if it's a two-year deal or longer),'' Mack said. "I got a long-term deal, and we got a nice good contract that both sides are happy with. I'm excited (about being the highest paid center) and what can I promise is that I'll try my hardest day in and day out and I'll be the same person.''
Mack said that he never wanted out of Cleveland, where losing has cost plenty of people their jobs and even led perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas to admit publicly that never making the playoffs was "drudgery."
"Contracts are tough," Mack said. "It's the business side of things and as a player my job is to play football, something I'm good at. I have agents (Marvin Demoff and Tim Younger) to do the business side of things, and it's not always easy, but I'm happy with where I'm at. ...
"I'm 100% dedicated to working my absolute hardest to win games and that's what everyone wants. That's what I'd like to see, but that's two years from now.''
Mack also has newfound respect for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who cleaned out the front office and fired the coaching staff earlier this year.
"Mr. Haslam took a lot of heat firing the coach after one year and cleaning the building out, but it shows a lot of drive which is really respectful in my book,'' he said. "He took a lot of personal attack on that but he did that because he knew what he wanted and that was the sunny side of looking at the same thing.''
If Haslam wants to win over the fans, he'll need to hit on the team's two first-round picks in next month's NFL Draft, and then, you know, win.