AJ McCarron: Wins appeal, granted free agency

Greg Lawrence
February 16, 2018

Just a few hours after publishing that top five, Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron became a free agent after winning his grievance against the team.

PFT has obtained a copy of the seven-page ruling in the case, which grants McCarron his freedom based on a finding that the Bengals improperly placed McCarron on the non-football injury list at the outset of the 2014 season.

During McCarron's rookie season, the Bengals put him on the NFI list in training camp because of shoulder soreness.

McCarron was drafted in the fifth-round (164th overall) of the 2014 draft by the Bengals. The Browns and other teams can begin negotiating for free agents on March 12 but not consummate the deals for two days.

In 2015, McCarron started games for the Bengals while Dalton was injured.

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There will be another unrestricted free agent quarterback in the mix for quarterback-needy teams - like the Jets - this offseason. Whoever Minnesota ultimately decides to stick with as their franchise signal-caller, they will need a solid backup in case their injuries woes continue at the position. Instead, the 27-year-old McCarron is set to find a place where he can start. Making the money is great, but I just want to play.

Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot says the Cleveland Browns will have interest in McCarron. The Bengals could still retain McCarron by giving him the transition or franchise tag, but it is nearly certainly not worth paying that kind of salary for a backup. He apparently convinced the arbitrator he got hurt while with the Bengals or that he could have played at some point before he was activated late that season. "That's all I want, but it's out of my control".

Could that mean McCarron is heading to Cleveland after all?

Teams like the Browns, Jets, Cardinals, Broncos, and maybe even the Jaguars are going to be actively looking for new quarterbacks. McCarron started the last three games and led the Bengals to the playoffs.

He would see a substantial increase in playing time at the National Hockey League level during the 2016-17 campaign, appearing in 56 regular season games and accounting for nine points (five goals and four assists), 15 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating.

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