Ruling on free-agent status of Bengals' AJ McCarron to come in February

The arbitration case to determine the free-agent status of Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron will be resolved in February, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, with the NFLPA contending that McCarron should be an unrestricted free agent and the league contending he should be a restricted free agent in 2018.

Both sides have already presented their full cases before the arbitrator -- the NFL declined to say who is hearing the case -- and at this point no further arguments or hearings are scheduled. All evidence and arguments have been presented and the sides await a ruling, to come early in the offseason and well before free agency begins in March.

McCarron began his rookie season on the Non-Football Injury list and was not on the active roster long enough (at least six weeks) to earn an accrued season towards free agency in 2014. McCarron (and the NFLPA) have argued he was healthy enough to come off that list sooner and should be credited as such.

The Browns tried to trade for McCarron this season, and he is considered a potential starting QB in the league by some evaluators.

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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