The Bengals agreed to trade McCarron to Cleveland, but the Browns failed to send documentation to the NFL prior to Tuesday's 4 p.m. EDT trade deadline, Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
McCarron was the subject of offseason trade talks, with one report suggesting that the Bengals wanted a first-round pick in return. According to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, the Browns were willing to give up second- and third-round picks for the quarterback, but didn't notify the league of the agreement prior to the deadline. McCarron is thus in line to remain Andy Dalton's backup for the rest of the season and await a shot at a starting job in 2018. The Bengals may have missed their chance to pull off a trade, as McCarron is in the fourth and final season of his rookie contract. However, he spent most of his rookie season on the non-football injury list, which could allow the Bengals to retain him as a restricted free agent, depending on an arbitrator's ruling. Either way, McCarron likely will end up in a different uniform next season.
The Broncos shot down speculation that they might be trying to trade for McCarron, Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post reports.
This mostly just serves as a reminder that McCarron is slated for another year backing up Andy Dalton, as the Bengals made it clear they'd want an early-round pick in exchange for the 26-year-old quarterback. It wouldn't make much sense for a team to pay that price without giving McCarron a full offseason in a new system to prepare for Week 1. At this stage, he'll likely have to wait until February/March for his next shot to be traded, with the Bengals perhaps a bit more willing once there's only one season left on his rookie deal. The contract actually is a point of contention, with McCarron hoping to become a free agent after this season because he spent most of 2014 on the Non-Football Injury list. He doesn't expect to have an answer until after the year.
Head coach Marvin Lewis said last month a trade is unlikely, as the Bengals seemingly value McCarron more than any other team does. The 26-year-old quarterback did a nice job filling in for an injured Andy Dalton late in the 2015 season, but he wasn't so impressive as to justify parting ways with a first-round pick. McCarron's value does get a boost from the possibility his 2014 campaign won't count as an accrued season, which would allow the team to keep him on his rookie contract through 2018. The 2014 fifth-round selection was on the Non-Football Injury list until Week 14 as a rookie while he recovered from a lingering shoulder issue he suffered before joining the team. McCarron doesn't expect to get a decision on the contract issue until next year, and he said he's at peace with his current situation in Cincinnati, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. While he'd probably prefer to be traded to a team which would give him a shot at the starting job, he still reported for the start of the Bengals' offseason program.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said the team hasn't received any offers for McCarron and doesn't plan to seek out a trade, the Bengals' official website reports. "AJ McCarron is a valuable member of our football team," Lewis said. "No one has asked to trade him. We're not going to go out and seek a trade for AJ McCarron. He's a valuable member of the team. We've said that how many times?"
There seems to be a general understanding around the league that the Bengals want more in return for McCarron than what anyone is willing to pay, though it isn't out of the question that a team like Cleveland or Houston could come up with a surprisingly strong offer if they miss out on other targets in free agency and/or the draft. McCarron does have experience working with Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who served as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. The Browns also have an impressive stockpile of draft picks -- including three of the first 33 selections in the upcoming draft -- but they'd probably prefer to use one of those on a young quarterback rather than trading it for the 26-year-old McCarron. Another year as Andy Dalton's backup is likely in the cards.
McCarron's trade value could increase if the Patriots are not willing to trade Jimmy Garappolo, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
Garoppolo is the obvious target for any franchise seeking a young backup quarterback, but the Patriots may be asking for a price beyond what other teams are willing to pay. While McCarron could likely be had for a lesser bounty, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin made it clear the team still values its 26-year-old backup, who filled in capably for an injured Andy Dalton late in the 2015 season. A 2014 fifth-round selection, McCarron is currently slated to become a restricted free agent in 2018, but an unresolved contract issue could push that back to 2019, which would further increase his trade value.
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