BEREA, Ohio — The Browns started the re-shaping of their roster last week by releasing defensive captain D’Qwell Jackson.
With the onset of free agency just a week away, the team designated one Pro Bowl player with a tag, while not doing so with another Pro Bowl player.
"The Browns have designated C Alex Mack as their transition player," the team posted on their Twitter account.
Meanwhile, defensive back T.J. Ward will become an unrestricted free agent if the Browns cannot sign him. The Browns have until March 8 to sign him or he will become a free agent on March 11.
The transition designation is seldom used and it means that the Browns will have five days to match any offer that Mack could receive. In other words, the Browns have the right of first refusal. The down side is the Browns would receive no compensation should Mack sign with another team and the Browns choose not to match the offer.
However, the Browns have more room under the salary cap then most teams in the NFL.
It is believed to be the first time in franchise history that the Browns have used the transition designation. The last time the Browns used the franchise tag was with former Browns kicker Phil Dawson after the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The Browns did not use the more commonly used franchise designation which means a player would receive the average of the top five players at the offensive line position, which breaks down to approximately $11.6 million for this season The number on the transition designation is slightly over $10 million for this season.
Mack was a first-round draft choice in 2009 and has made the Pro Bowl twice, including this past season. He has played every snap for the Browns since joining the team, a streak of 4,998 consecutive snaps.
Ward ended up in his first Pro Bowl after last season when Troy Polamalu could not play due to injury.
It is believed the Browns have an interest in Bills safety Jairus Byrd, who played for new Browns coach Mike Pettine last season when Pettine was defensive coordinator in Buffalo. Byrd was franchised by the Bills last season, but the club declined to do so this year.
Bills GM Doug Whaley issued a statement concerning Byrd.
"…We remain open to getting a deal done with Jairus, but we have chosen not to use the franchise tag on any of our impending unrestricted free agents."