It’s officially here.
The 2015-2016 NFL season will officially be over. Today, hope springs eternal once again. The new league year has begun and free agents are fair game to every team in the league.
The weeks leading up to free agency are filled with teams jockeying to free up enough money to fill gaps in their roster. Experienced veterans will be cut not because they are not producing but because they make too much money. Decisions on franchise and transition tags will be made and trade possibilities will be discussed.
To that end, a story that sent shockwaves through the league just a week ago can greatly change the fortunes of the downtrodden San Diego Chargers.
Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl center Alex Mack voided the last three years of his contract, making him a free agent. Mack is a little known name to the casual NFL fan but his name undoubtedly got General Managers around the league drooling like Pavlov’s dogs.
For the uninitiated, here’s all you need to know about Alex Mack:
Standing at 6’4″, 311 lbs., Mack is a seven-year veteran who has made the Pro Bowl in two of the last three seasons. He is considered the best center in the NFL, and is set to sign the biggest contract for a center in the NFL with whomever he decided to play for next season.
Mack is 30 and has made the Pro Bowl in three of his seven seasons (2010, ’13, 15). The only reason he didn’t make it in 2014 was due to a broken leg he suffered five games into the season. Until the injury, Mack has not missed a single game at center. He returned to his Pro Bowl form immediately upon returning last season and is set to be an annual participant for the duration of his career.
San Diego needs to make Mack their top priority. The offensive line has been a major downfall for the team for many seasons. Signing a time-tested All-Pro veteran like Mack will be huge in solidifying the turnstile on the offensive line. The Chargers have not had a great center since Nick Hardwick retired in 2014. The position has been unstable with Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson sharing the duties since then. The two are servicable centers but neither are the long term answer.
This is the time for the San Diego front office to show their commitment to winning after a miserable 2015 campaign and the whole stadium fiasco on the shelf at least for this year. The window on Rivers’ career is closing. Keeping him upright by adding championship-caliber players will produce a championship-caliber team.
Teams are now able to start contacting the agents of free agents to make deals. Bolts GM Tom Telesco should have Macks’ agent on speed dial with offers from the word go. It will take the largest contract the Chargers have given to a non-quarterback in a long while, but you get what you pay for. Quality.
The Greg One