Allen is perhaps a little less pro ready than Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, so it's just as likely the Bills let McCarron steer the ship for a while while the big-armed Wyoming product learns the NFL game. However, Bills GM Branden Beane clearly expects Allen to be the team's long-term answer at quarterback, while McCarron never seemed to be that guy when the Bills signed him to a modest two-year, $10 million deal in the later stages of free agency. At the very least, coach Sean McDermott is a big believer in open competition and McCarron has the leg up on experience and running a pro offense. If McCarron doesn't win the starting job, it'll be a first in the modern football era -- no team has ever drafted a quarterback in the first round following a playoff appearance and started the new guy in Week 1.
Coach Sean McDermott stated this week that the starting QB job will be decided through competition, Dominic LoVallo of BuffaloBills.com reports. "We've got open competition at the position. We've got two good players at the position," McDermott said in referring to McCarron and last year's fifth-rounder, Nathan Peterman. "Two, good, young players and we're excited about both of them. Both have done a lot of winning, albeit at the college level. Both quarterbacks have a lot of room to grow and are very encouraged about the opportunity to compete to start for the Buffalo Bills."
McDermott is a fine young coach, but he's also grown a quick knack for saying things like everything is a competition and no one's job is safe, including his own. So while it makes for good coach-speak, we doubt the Bills went out and landed McCarron only so they could let a much younger QB that struggled last season sneak away his job in some tryout. What's more important for McCarron's status is who the Bills take in the first round this season. If they trade up for someone like Josh Rosen or Josh Allen, or let someone fall to them at the No. 12 pick and take a quarterback there, then the competition could get serious pretty quickly since enough will be invested in that choice where that guy immediately becomes a franchise type of player.
McCarron was granted free agency this offseason after an arbitration hearing ruled in his favor Feb. 15, finally allowing him the opportunity to seek out a long-awaited opportunity for a starting gig. Most of the openings were filled during the legal tampering period that started Monday, but the Bills finally found the direct successor to Tyrod Taylor in the opening hours of the new league year. During his time in Cincinnati, McCarron had three dalliances as a starter in 2015, completing 65 percent (54 of 83) of his passes for 552 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in those contests.
The Bengals contended that McCarron, a 2014 fifth-round pick, should be a restricted free agent this offseason after failing to accrue enough time on the team's active roster during his rookie campaign to qualify for unrestricted free agency. McCarron had spent most of that season on the Bengals' Non-Football Injury list due to a shoulder issue that impacted his throwing during Organized Team Activities, but the quarterback believed he could have come off the NFI list during training camp and that his activation was wrongfully delayed. After McCarron received the favorable ruling in arbitration, the Bengals won't be able to tender him the standard one-year contract for restricted free agents heading into their fourth season, thereby allowing the 27-year-old pursue a more sizable deal on the open market, and potentially, the opportunity to compete for a starting role. McCarron shouldn't have trouble securing a multi-year contract after the Browns made a major push to acquire him last fall, reportedly agreeing to send second- and third-round picks to the Bengals before the deal was nixed due to Cleveland's failure to submit paperwork for the trade in a timely fashion.
McCarron will receive an arbitration ruling Feb. 15 on his grievance to become an unrestricted free agent, Laurel Pfahler of the Dayton Daily News reports.
A fifth-round pick out of Alabama in 2014, McCarron never accrued an official rookie season after beginning his career on the reserve/Non-Football Injury list before joining the 53-man roster for only three regular-season and one postseason contest that year. Since players must accrue four NFL seasons before reaching unrestricted free agency, McCarron is eager to have his status changed this offseason due to the higher leverage he would have in negotiations for a new contract. If the Bengals lose their rights to McCarron, he would likely pursue his options elsewhere in pursuit of a more legitimate starting opportunity.
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