Because if Mack gets to the free agent market that opens March 9, he will be one of the best players available. That means crazy amounts of money, which will make it all the more difficult for the Browns.
This market promises to pay the average players extremely well. One can only imagine what it will pay a player like Mack, who has been to the Pro Bowl in two of the last three years. Mack's agent said that the possibility of returning is on the table. But Tim Younger also said this is the first time Mack can truly choose where he will play.
The Browns matched Jacksonville’s offer sheet in 2014, and rightly so. But two years later, Jacksonville or Atlanta or any team that wants a Pro Bowl center can dangle lots of money at Mack, money that the Browns might not wish to match.
If he leaves, the question immediately becomes the identity of the 2016 center.
Cam Erving, the second of two first-round picks in 2015, was penciled in as the heir apparent when he was selected 19th. But Erving played so poorly as a rookie the Browns have to at least discuss whether he would be the best fit, and whether the team can count on him.
It's not exactly a surprise that Mack opted out. It was expected all along — especially as loss after loss piled up in 2015.
It's never good when a bad team loses the good players it has — especially when there's uncertainty about his replacement.
This is not exactly a glittering start to the Browns offseason.