If reports are accurate, current Browns center Alex Mack will sign an offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars by the end of this week. The Browns will then have five days to match the Jaguars’ offer, or they’ll lose their star center. That’s something Cleveland does intend to do, but that’s not what their center is hoping for.
According to Adam Schefter, Mack wants to play this contract in Jacksonville, not in Cleveland. The fact that one of the best centers in the game would rather play in Jacksonville than Cleveland tells us a lot about the state of the Browns and how its players actually feel about the team’s efforts to turn it around.
The Jaguars haven’t won their division since 1999, and that was still in the days of the AFC Central. The team hasn’t posted a winning record since 2007, which was also the last time Jacksonville went to the playoffs. The one factor that may be working in Jacksonville’s favor is the face of their new regime, Gus Bradley. Bradley’s positive nature is nothing short of infectious, and it’s been credited with pulling in free agents this offseason.
So what team could Jacksonville’s resume possibly top? If the Jaguars have struggled in recent years, the Browns have flat out failed.
The last time the Browns won their own division, which was also the AFC Central, was in 1989. In fact, since re-entering the NFL in 1999, the Browns have posted a winning record just twice, only playing in one playoff game. In the past decade, the Browns have finished last in the AFC North eight times.
The bad news is, things aren’t turning around in a hurry for the Browns.
Since taking over as the Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam has fired two head coaches, and the Browns haven’t been able to put a solid roster under new head coach Mike Pettine. Without players that can win games, there’s no reason to believe this regime will last much longer than the Browns’ last regime.
In fact, Cleveland should be taking notes from the Jaguars on how to turn a team around. After terminating he previous team leaders, the Jags hired a new general manager and head coach duo. Since then, they’ve enticed players to join the Jaguars by presenting a united front and giving players a clear plan for the future. Under Haslam, the Browns have been unable to develop a long-term solution to their current players.
The Browns may well match the Jaguars’ offer to Alex Mack, but even if they do, their underlying problems will still remain. Until Cleveland fixes their problems in management, talented players won’t want to join the Browns.