The Cleveland Browns chose yesterday to place the transition tag on Pro Bowl Center Alex Mack, leaving Pro Bowl Safety T.J. Ward to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent. According to Media reports Ward’s agent Josh Arnold has received several requests for information about the ongoing contract negotiations, and felt is was necessary to provide a statement in regards to the situation. The Browns’ front office has had several detailed contract discussions with Ward’s agent, which began during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Since the Combine several conversations have taken place in an attempt to secure a new long-term deal for Ward.
Arnold further noted in his statement “T.J. has proven himself to be not only an elite NFL safety, but an elite and top NFL player league wide which is evidenced by him earning both All Pro and Pro Bowl recognition this past season. With the passing of the franchise/transition tag deadline, we remain open to further discussions with the Browns in working towards a long-term deal and look forward to that possibility. However, if things don’t work out in Cleveland, we likewise look forward to the opportunity that can coincide with becoming an unrestricted free agent.”
The Browns’ in my opinion need to get a long-term deal done before the start of the new league year (March 11th), Ward is a prized commodity in a pass heavy league and will not last long on the open market. The Browns’ will have more than enough cap to get Ward signed to a reasonable deal, and still have enough room to look at possible upgrades at other key positions. The highest paid safety in the NFL is the Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu whose current deal of 3 year -$29.6 Million expires after the 2014 season.