Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reports that an agreement between the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns free-agent center Alex Mack is being “wrapped up” and is “going to get done” a few hours before the start of the NFL’s league year at 4 p.m. Eastern this afternoon.
Various reports indicated throughout the past day that the Falcons and Mack were closing in on a deal. It was first reported by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole yesterday that the Falcons were “extensively interested” in adding Mack.
Mack, 30, rejoins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who he played under in 2014 when the latter was the coordinator in Cleveland. Mack missed most of that season with a broken leg, but returned in 2015 to start every game and earn his third trip to the Pro Bowl.
Mack was initially selected by the Browns in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of the University of California and immediately established himself as one of the premier centers in the NFL when he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2010. Outside the 11 games he missed in 2014, has started every game at center over the past seven years for the Browns.
Mack should provide a significant upgrade to the center position for the Falcons as they were forced to play guard Mike Person at that spot last season after the surprising decision to release incumbent Joe Hawley before the start of the regular season. Person logged 14 starts, being replaced by James Stone and Gino Gradkowski for two games when he was out with injury. Person began the year ably, but his play dipped as the season progressed and he struggled with snapping the ball at times.
Mack’s addition will likely push the Falcons to move Person to his more natural guard spot, where he initially began last spring in Atlanta when working with the starting lineup. There, the Falcons could potentially lose starting right guard Chris Chester to free agency. Left guard Andy Levitre is also considered to be on the bubble according to earlier reports from ESPN.
The Falcons and Mack can’t officially sign a deal until after the league year starts later today. No terms have been released on the size of Mack’s contract, but SI’s Peter King reports that it is expected to average $9.5 million per year. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates that the deal will last five years. Earlier projections had Mack making about $9 million annually over five years.