NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport first noted last week that the two-time Pro Bowl center had a "better chance" of landing a new deal with the team after general manager Michael Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner were swept out the door in a stunning front-office shakeup.
On Monday, ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi threw another log on that fire, reporting that Farmer and new coach Mike Pettine have decided to pursue re-signing Mack.
We still expect the center to test the open market, but it's an indication that the Browns would rather not slap the lineman with the franchise tag. That makes sense, considering centers, guards and tackles are bunched together in figuring tag numbers -- meaning Mack would net the same one-year earnings, around $11.2 million, as a top-flight offensive tackle.
Gregg Rosenthal pegged Browns safety T.J. Ward as a more likely target for the tag, unless Pettine and Farmer opt to pursue Jairus Byrd, the Buffalo Bills safety with experience in the coach's multiple, attacking defensive scheme.
It should be a comfort to Browns fans that Pettine and Farmer -- unlike Lombardi and Banner -- value Mack. The two-time Pro Bowl pick is coming off his finest season and has never missed an NFL start. Last we checked, Cleveland can use more of these players, not less.