If the Browns don’t reach a multi-year deal with Mack, he will play the 2014 season under a salary of $10.039 million.
The only downside to tagging Mack rather than working out a new deal now is that other teams can still make him an offer once free agency begins on March 11. If that were to happen, the Browns would have five days to match any offer for Mack.
The risk of that happening seems small, however, as the Browns have the second-most cap space in the NFL, so it would be difficult for another team to create an offer that the Browns would be financially unable to match. And throw in the fact that by using the transition tag, rather than the franchise tag, the Browns would not receive a draft pick compensation if Mack were to leave, and it seems like the Browns have plenty of motivation to keep Mack in Cleveland at least through the upcoming season.