The biggest NFL story the past 24 hours and perhaps for the rest of this day is the drama playing out between Cleveland and Jacksonville and the contract center Alex Mack will soon sign. Mack, a two-time Pro Bowl center, is set to sign a deal with Jacksonville that is expected to pay roughly $9 million per year over the next two years and approximately $27 million over the next three years.
Do the math. That's a $9 million annual per year average (apy).
For a center.
And that matters to you because, why?
Because the Dolphins also have a Pro Bowl center. And he wants a contract extension. And he is watching the Alex Mack situation and ensuing contract with a lot of interest.
Pouncey is set to make $1.63 million in what is scheduled to be the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. Yes, under the collective bargaining agreement, the Dolphins can exercise an option next month and add another year to the deal. I have reported in this space the Dolphins absolutely will add that year to Pouncey's deal next month.
But the issue is Pouncey wants a contract extension regardless of the option. He believes he's out-played his rookie contract, which he has, and deserves to be rewarded for doing so.
He also believes he's become a leader on the team -- Wells Report nothwithstanding -- and the Dolphins have already conceded that point in both words and actions. Remember that when left tackle Branden Albert was signed the team brought two players to the celebratory dinner with the new acquisition and coaches. Those two were quarterback Ryan Tannehill and, of course, Pouncey.
That spoke to Pouncey's standing.
So the next few months as we head to the start of training camp will be an interesting time as the sides discuss an extension for Mike Pouncey.
So what does Alex Mack have to do with any of this?
Well, Mack's contract is likely to make him the highest paid center in the NFL. And while Pouncey likely won't reach those heights because he is not as accomplished as Mack and hasn't actually hit free agency, as Mack did, he might not get $9 million apy.
But $7 million apy?
Perhaps $8 million apy?
Those numbers will be in play.
Yes, the Dolphins can argue no center is worth that kind of annual salary. There are excellent left tackles in the NFL making between $7-$8 million. They can argue that unlike Mack, Pouncey has not hit free agency and is not designated as a transition player. They can even argue Pouncey is actually under contract for two more years, once the option takes effect, and so an extension is not in the offing at all.
But those arguments will fall on deaf ears for the player and his agent because they see themselves as being among the best at their position, going into the final year of a rookie contract, and being grossly underpaid.
And the only way to correct that is with an extension.
And once they win that argument, and they will, the next question is what is Pouncey worth? And that's when the Alex Mack deal will be raised. I suppose it may not be matched by the Dolphins. But it will surely be raised and used as a ceiling for Pouncey.
That's why it matters here.