It seems likely that Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron could be traded this offseason.
The backup has shown he’s more than capable of being a starting quarterback for one of the 32 NFL teams, which is why the Bengals would be wise to attempt to trade him while his value is highest.
But making a deal is no easy thing, even when there is a player one team wants to move that fits another team’s need. Figuring out the right compensation, how to extend said player once he’s acquired, and if he’s really an upgrade over what the team currently has now are all factors that must be satisfied for a deal to be made.
Here is a look at three teams that satisfy those needs...maybe.
I stress ‘maybe’ because, in the case of teams like Buffalo, they must first get rid of their current quarterback for this to be a realistic destination. Tyrod Taylor is a better quarterback right now than McCarron, but he doesn’t look like a good fit in Buffalo, not to mention he’s not worth his $17 million annual salary going forward.
Buffalo would probably rather pay McCarron $745,413 next year (his current cap hit for the season) and see what he’s got, instead of paying Taylor $17 million to lead them to another six or seven-win season.
It seems like a foregone conclusion Buffalo eventually parts ways with Taylor, which would put them at or near the top of the list when it comes to trade suitors for McCarron.
Does Hue Jackson think McCarron is a franchise quarterback? If he does, then Jackson could make a run at McCarron this offseason in hopes of finding a quarterback ready to help him win now.
Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler aren’t getting the job done, so it’s possible Jackson sees an upgrade in McCarron since they were together from 2014-15. And it’s not like this draft class has great quarterback prospects, so perhaps getting McCarron and rolling with him in 2017 is their best option.
The prior connection with Jackson makers this a legitimate trade partner, even though Cleveland and Cincinnati play in the same division. Oh, and it’s not like Jackson hasn’t traded for a Bengals quarterback before...
With Kirk Cousins set to hit free agency, it’s possible Washington is left without a quarterback heading into the 2017 draft. Again, this isn’t a great class for quarterbacks, and Washington is drafting in the second half of the first round, where immediate starters are rarely found.
Trading for McCarron could give them an instant starter who may be good enough to get them right back into playoff contention next season with a strong supporting cast around him.
There’s also the Jay Gruden connection with the Bengals, though he left for Washington five months before McCarron was drafted. Having connections is key to making big-time trades, so this will be a team to watch for in the McCarron sweepstakes.
But this is only a possible destination if Cousins leaves. If he re-signs, cross Washington off the list.
The 49ers are probably not rolling with either Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert next season, so they will need a new starting and backup quarterback next season. Of all the teams mentioned in this article, San Francisco is the likeliest team to be in need of a quarterback next season, so they may be the best trade destination for McCarron.
It could help if former Bengals assistant Vance Joseph is named head coach there. He’s in the running, and he knows what McCarron can do, so this could strengthen the likelihood of a potential trade between Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Even without Joseph, the 49ers will likely need to get a quarterback this offseason, and McCarron would be one of their best chances to get an experienced guy vs an inexperienced rookie draft pick.
Which NFL team do you think makes the most sense for the Bengals to deal McCarron to?