The 2014 free agency period is off with a bang and I cannot recall such a fast and furious start to any season, especially one with so many big name players changing teams. One player that has been strangely silent is center Alex Mack.
Normally there are rumors linking a player to teams wanting to upgrade or replace talent lost but not in this case. It has been rather quiet on the rumor front as to where he will ultimately land and with his agent Marvin Demoff making comments that he was confident that he could put together a deal for his client that the Browns, who placed a transition tag on Mack, wouldn’t be able to match is a rather odd statement and might point to Mack wanting to change the dysfunction of Cleveland for greener pastures.
Out of all of the free agents this one is proving to be the most interesting and with no real urgency to sign the tender from the Browns, the deadline is in late July, I think he is waiting for Cleveland to use up most of it's cap before making his move. Looking at the cap numbers the Browns have a little over 43 million of cap left second most in the league to Oakland's 57 million courtesy of Spotrac http://www.spotrac.com/cap-tracker/nfl/.
The million dollar question for the Raiders is would Alex Mack be such a significant upgrade as to warrant the huge contract? I keep wandering back and forth on this. On one hand he could be the one signing on offense to turn the tide and solidify the line for next season, on the other it might be better to draft a guard and build through the draft.
Since most of the top talent at guard has been signed all that is left are one or two journeymen that are better than our starters from last year the Nation knows all too well that is not a very good option. Since losing out on Saffold which I believe in the long run was the best thing possible due to the massive contract there is still a huge hole to fill in the middle.
The problem is we already have a top ten center anchoring the line. While we can all agree that Wiz plays the position very good, I think he plays much better at his natural position guard. When he was drafted by our late and great founder Al Davis he found a steal of a player in the second round. His rookie year at guard he showed flashes of greatness. In his second year he was moved to center and to me it just didn't give me that wow factor that I remembered seeing just a year before.
The center position is the only position on offense besides quarterback that is responsible for reading and adjusting the schemes. That is the only attribute that is average about Wiz. Unfortunately it is also the most important. A lot of people want to focus on his miscues with snapping but to me his only weakness is calling the line adjustments which is huge especially when you don't have a Manning or Brady to help with that. Enter Mack. As good as he is at slamming the door up the middle, he’s just as good at getting the offensive line organized and calling the adjustments for the front five. With no weaknesses he is just as good on any down and limits the defensive line schemes. The only problem is will Wiz be willing to move for what's best for the team? Because if he is by adding Mack at center you get instant improvement at two positions which is hard to believe when referencing Wiz and will greatly help with quarterback development by taking some of the pressure off of an already difficult transition. Not to mention having the versatility to plug in Wiz at center if something were to happen to Mack. That kind of instant improvement and line flexibility is very hard to come by and might be the quickest way to success.
I personally like the moves big Reggie has made so far and the overall direction of the franchise. Building through the draft is the best way for long term success but building a team the right way takes time. If Oakland were to nail it out of the park on every draft it would still take at least three years to build the team correctly. Bringing in Mack would instantly give us all pro talent at two of the biggest positions on the line and would give the fans even more to be excited about all while taking out a little of the sting of the last ten years. It Might be the quickest move to respectability and something the Nation can look to as a pathway to regaining the greatness of the Raiders.