The Jacksonville Jaguars lost out on free agent center Alex Mack, as the Cleveland Browns matched their five-year, $42 million offer. The Browns matched within hours of the deal becoming official, which led to a weird dynamic of some journalists mocking the Jaguars as buffoons in the deal, saying they'd been worked over by the Browns and Mack's agent.
In the end, #Jaguars were stooges in the Alex Mack taffy pull. Well done, Mack.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) April 11, 2014
#Jags GM David Caldwell comes off as the rookie. And he's got a year longer on the job than Farmer.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) April 11, 2014
The sentiments above are not one I quite understand. With the Browns matching the offer, the Jaguars virtually lost absolutely nothing outside of a plane ticket and a steak dinner, as Times-Union beat writer Ryan O'Halloran quipped on Twitter a few times.
The Jaguars made a reasonable offer with a few hangups in hopes that it would give the Browns pause in matching the deal. The Browns matched it. All parties used the situation as it was intended and neither party came out a loser.
The Jaguars had absolutely nothing to lose in making the offer to Mack and lost nothing when the Browns matched. It was so far late in free agency the shopping had been done and the market had settled. It's not like the Jaguars missed out on some other players or needed to alter their draft plans because they missed on landing Mack.
Both the Browns and the Jaguars ended up winners in some form or fashion in this whole ordeal. The Browns got to keep their Pro Bowl center. Alex Mack gets paid and gains leverage for the future with a no-trade and player option in the deal. The Jaguars gain a bit of a change in perception when it comes to the free agent market and how their front office operates.
What is the perception the Jaguars have started changing?
Ryan Clark on free agency: "There are some places you just don't want to go. I won't say those places on TV." cough-Jags-cough— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) March 11, 2014
It's an ignorant shot, because it assumes the Jaguars are the same as they ever were. They're different now. But unless you follow the team closely or interact with anyone involved with the team, you'll just push the same old narrative because you don't know otherwise.
The perception in the past was that a team like the Jaguars couldn't lure in top free agents without grossly overpaying them. This offseason however the Jaguars pulled in some upper-tier free agents on more than reasonable deals, such as Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Zane Beadles. All had interest from other teams and likely would have gotten the same type of deals, but all signed rather quickly once they got to Jacksonville.
In the case of Alex Mack, he's arguably one of the best at his position in the league. It was reported he was unsure what to think on his way to Jacksonville, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, but that quickly changed to him WANTING to play for the Jaguars after meeting people within the organization and the coaching staff.
As Garafolo states, a top-flight free agent wanted to be a Jaguar. He even agreed to the terms of a deal. Other players will see this. Agents will see that the Jaguars were willing to make one of the best players at his position the highest paid player at it.
Clearly the winds are changing at One Everbank Place. The results on the field have to follow, but the change in the building and in the organization are already in place.