Sep 1, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) looks to pass in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals have a big decision to make regarding young backup quarterback A.J. McCarron and his future with the team.
For three years he has ably served as the relief pitcher to Andy Dalton, coming into games whenever required and posting some pretty favorable numbers. In 2015, with Dalton injured he started four games including the playoffs. All told he finished with 764 yards, 5 TDs, one interception and a 93.9 quarterback rating. He had the Bengals in position to win their first playoff game since 1990 before a Jeremy Hill fumble and two defensive penalties ruined it.
Much of the talk going into the 2017 off-season is how Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo could be prime trade candidates on the quarterback market. It would seem expectations are McCarron will be included as well. He’s 26-years old and going into the final season of his rookie contract. If the Bengals are hoping to get any value out of him before he’s a free agent, it must be this spring.
Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer revealed that the Bengals not only are considering a trade, but have made it part of their “itinerary” for the next few months.
A McCarron deal is a part of the offseason itinerary. Matter of when, where and who will provide the most value. https://t.co/HddmcqkTMr
McCarron didn’t try to hide from the fact either. He said he would not be upset at the prospect of being dealt elsewhere. While very appreciative to the organization for helping him become a professional, he admitted his burning desire to play hasn’t left.
“The coaches know, Marvin knows how big of a competitor I am and I want a chance to play,” he said. “But, if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. Things I can’t control. I’m not going to put any, what (offensive coordinator Ken Zampese) likes to say, mental units on that because it’s out of my hands.”
Given the perceived weakness of the upcoming draft and free agent classes for 2017, there is a strong possibility that McCarron will have a trade market. It’s a matter of figuring out which teams may or may not be interested. Here is a quick rundown of the three likeliest possibilities based on needs and McCarron’s particular skill set.
Nov 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson calls a play in during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
This is the most obvious destination. The Cleveland Browns have an obvious need for help at the quarterback position. They have plenty of draft currency to entice the Bengals into a deal even though the teams share a division. To top it off Hue Jackson is their head coach. Prior to this he was the offensive coordinator for Cincinnati and was present for when they drafted McCarron three years ago in 2014. It’s as clear a match as one will find.
Something to remember here is that McCarron was brought up in the Alabama system. His job was to feed the running game, make big throws off play action and above all protect the football. That is the exact style of play the Chicago Bears are looking for. They have Jordan Howard to run the ball and a trio of stud interior linemen to maintain a solid pocket. McCarron would be able to play his style of ball control offense, which he won two national titles with.
It didn’t take long for Bill O’Brien to scratch the Brock Osweiler experiment. As for Tom Savage, he doesn’t look like the future of the Houston Texans either. This team needs to find some sort of answer at the quarterback position. If they’re not willing to explore the draft, which has been the case for year under Rick Smith, then reasonably priced trade with Cincinnati for McCarron makes sense. He’s smart and efficient and takes coaching well. Just the kind of guy O’Brien likes.