During the NFL combine back in February, the Bengals made it clear that they value AJ McCarron, and now, we have a good idea of just how much they value their backup quarterback.
According to Albert Breer of MMQB.com, the Bengals like McCarron so much that they turned down an offer of a second-round pick for him during the offseason.
Unfortunately, we don't know which NFL team made the offer. However, we can probably assume it wasn't the Broncos.
Rumor of us being interested in anyone other than the QBs we have is another example of irresponsible, fake news!!— John Elway (@johnelway) August 9, 2017
If the Bengals had accepted the deal, you could certainly argue that trading McCarron for a second-round pick would have been a steal for Cincinnati. However, the Bengals ended up not making the move because that would have left them without a proven backup quarterback heading into the 2017 season. The team was also concerned that they would have to spend a draft pick to replace McCarron.
If the Bengals had pulled the trigger on a McCarron trade, it means they would've flipped a 2014 fifth-round pick for a 2018 second-round pick, which doesn't seem like a bad deal.
That being said, if the Bengals weren't willing to trade McCarron for a second-rounder, it likely means that he's going to be in Cincinnati until his contract runs out.
Speaking of his contract, that's actually a touchy issue right now.
McCarron's four-year rookie deal is set to to expire after the 2017 season, but there's one small catch: No one seems sure if he'll be a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent.
Generally, any rookie selected following the first round will become an unrestricted free agent -- and can sign with any team -- after their four-year rookie deal expires. McCarron might not have that option, though.
The Bengals quarterback spent most his rookie season on the NFI (non-football injury) list, and therefore, didn't accrue a season of playing time, so the Bengals are arguing that McCarron should be a restricted free agent.
If that happens, the Bengals could put a first-, second- or fifth-round tender on him, which means a team would have to give them a draft pick if they were to sign McCarron following the 2017 season.
Right now, the case is still up in the air.
"It's just something they're going to fight on their side and I'm going to fight on my side to prove why I shouldn't have to have another year," McCarron said in April, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It is what it is. It's what the lawyers and all that will fix out. We'll see what happens."
If the Bengals win the case, that potentially would make McCarron a more attractive trade target because that means he'll be under contract for a very reasonable price until the end of the 2018 season.
Of course, if you're going to call and make an offer to the Bengals, it sounds like they're not going to budge unless someone offers at least a first-round pick.
McCarron has been on the Bengals' roster since 2014 when he was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. The former Alabama quarterback didn't take his first regular season snap until December 2015 after Andy Dalton went down with a thumb injury.
After Dalton's injury, McCarron started the final three regular-season games of the 2015 season and went 2-1. The 26-year-old was also the team's starter during the Bengals' infamous playoff meltdown against the Steelers in January 2016.