Nothing is ever concrete until a player signs a new deal, but it is encouraging to hear reports that the Cleveland Browns are working to resign All Pros Alex Mack and T.J. Ward before they hit free agency next month.
The season-long fear was that the Browns would let Mack and Ward walk in free agency because they play positions that then-CEO Joe Banner did not deem worthy of a big-money contract. But now that general manager Ray Farmer is running the show, things may be different.
Say what you will about Ward and Mack – we know they have their detractors – but they are very good players (especially Mack, who has yet to miss a game in five seasons in Cleveland) and they both seem to get more credit from outside of Cleveland than they do closer to home. If the Browns are serious about getting better, they are the kind of players the team needs to keep.
The Browns also have numerous other holes to fill across the roster and it seems counter-productive to create more problems for yourself by not signing two of your best players and creating even more holes. You also don’t want to run the risk of letting them hit free agency, where all it would take is one desperate team to throw a bunch of money at them, and having them walk away.