The Arizona Cardinals have a need at center entering this offseason, at least that is what most would say. A very good center is expected to be available. Veteran center Alex Mack, who has spent seven years with the Cleveland Browns and has been a three-time Pro Bowler, is expected to opt out of his current contract and hit the open market as a free agent.
Mack has three years and $24 million left on his deal, but is expected to command a salary of $8-10 million per year on the open market.
Is he a good option for Arizona?
Why he makes sense
Arizona has been making a concerted effort to make the offensive line better. They signed Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati to big free agent contracts in each of the past two offseasons and general manager Steve Keim has used two first round picks in the last three years to select linemen. The only position that has not had a prominent move is the center position.
If the Cardinals want to add a center, it make sense to go after the best. Local radio host John Gambadoro said recently on the radio he exchanged text messages with former Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has been Mack's teammates in Cleveland, and Dansy told him Mack was the very best center he has ever faced in his career.
Currently, the Cardinals have no proven player at center. Lyle Sendlein will be a free agent. A.Q. Shipley has been a starter, but also has not held a starting job. They have inexperienced centers after Shipley -- young players who haven't made it in the league yet. Mack would be a great addition to protect Carson Palmer and open holes for the running game.
Why he doesn't make sense
The main thing here is money. Veldheer is making an average of $7 million a year. Iupati makes $8 million per year. Presumed starters Jonathan Cooper and D.J. Humphries are first round picks. Can they sink another $10 million just on the offensive line?
Offense wasn't the problem last season. They set records. Now they do need to replace Sendlein and maybe Shipley is enough, but if they sink more money in the offensive line, how will they be able to address needs on the defense?
While Mack would be fantastic here, the economics don't make sense. The team has a lot of money locked up at receiver, quarterback and already on the line. They need to dedicate some resources on the defensive side of the ball.