On Friday afternoon, Browns center Alex Mack had no idea if he'd be flying south or turning the key in his Cleveland area front door again. And now that he's headed back home, he couldn't be happier. "It's been a long, hard road, but I'm here and I'm happy,'' Mack told cleveland.com in an exclusive phone interview Saturday. "I'm excited. I'm fired up. There's no bad blood. Now that it's done, I'm happy.'' Mack remained the property of the Browns for at least two years Friday when the club quickly matched the five-year, $42 milliom offer sheet from the Jaguars. The deal, which averages $8.4 million a year, makes Mack the highest paid center in the NFL and gives him the opportunity to become a free agent after two years. The deal includes $26 million guaranteed overall, and $18 million over the first two seasons, after which Mack can void the deal and hit the market. If he sticks around for a third year, he'll make another $8 million guaranteed in 2016 and then have a chance to make $8 million in the final two seasons. The Browns also can't trade him up until the start of 2017 and can't franchise or transition him after 2015 because of the timing of the opt-out clause. "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),'' he 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, 27, denied national reports that he badly wanted out of Cleveland. "I don't believe I ever said that,'' he said "Seeing the options and trying to test free agency and see what else was out there was something that we wanted to do and we had a small opportunity to kind of get a little bit of that.'' But did he want out? "No,'' he said. "Contracts are tough. 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.'' What will it take for him to stay after the first two seasons of the deal, during which he'll average $9 million a year. "I'm 100% dedicated to working my absolute hardest to win games and that's what everyone wants,'' he said. "That's what I'd like to see, but that's two years from now.'' Mack, who received the transition tag at the start of free agency, said he remained hopeful throughout the ordeal that he could remain a Brown and receive fair market value.
Cleveland Browns' Alex Mack: "There's no bad blood. Now that it's done, I'm excited''
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Apr 13