The Cincinnati Bengals almost got a deal done to trade quarterback AJ McCarron before the NFL trade deadline.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Bengals were working with the Cleveland Browns on a deal for McCarron, but the two sides were unable to complete the deal.
Bengals and Browns tried, but failed, to complete trade for QB AJ McCarron before deadline, per sources. Deal was “close”; not finalized.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Bengals and Browns thought they beat the clock on AJ McCarron trade. Clock beat them. Close but no deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
The previous connection between McCarron and Browns head coach Hue Jackson also should have helped get a deal done if there was one to be made. Jackson probably knows McCarron gives him a better shot to win than Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan or DeShone Kizer, all of whom have failed miserably this season.
I would venture to guess Cincinnati wanted the Browns’ first round pick but MAYBE a second-round pick and/or a third-round pick to give up McCarron. Remember this Tweet from back in April...
On the veteran QB market: If the #Bengals are going to trade AJ McCarron it will require a 1st round pick -- at least. Pretty unlikely.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2017
You can’t blame the Bengals for wanting a big haul for McCarron after he’s shown he can pick up the slack if Andy Dalton is injured, but with his contract expiring soon, they need to take whatever offer for him they can get. And, it looks the Browns were ready to give the Bengals enough to justify the move, yet, it didn’t work out.
In his NFL career, McCarron has played 10 games with four starts (including the postseason) and has completed 102/160 passes for 1,066 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
One big problem with trading McCarron is that he’s set to argue he should be an unrestricted free agent next spring, while the Bengals believe he should be a restricted free agent. With that status up in the air, trading him would likely be a tricky situation.
If this is real and the Bengals and Browns were truly just minutes from beating the clock on this deal, that brings into play a whole other level of ridiculousness. What kept this deal from getting done?
Would the Bengals have been better off getting rid of McCarron now? How about the Browns? What would this mean for the AFC North? I guess we’ll never know as AJ McCarron will play out the rest of this year in Cincinnati (well, bench out this year) and during the offseason we’ll learn if he’s going to be a UFA or RFA.
UPDATE 5:03 pm EST
It looks like the Bengals and Browns agreed on the deal right before the deadline, but the Browns pulled out at the last second, or just failed to get their answer to the NFL in time.
Bengals and Browns actually agreed to AJ McCarron trade at 3:55 pm, per source involved. Bengals approved trade to NFL, Browns did not.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
Grossi: It seems like the #Browns forgot or just didn't call in the trade to the NFL in time.— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) October 31, 2017
The Browns then tried to get the NFL to accept the deal after 4:00 p.m. ET, but they would not, even though the Bengals submitted their paperwork in time.
Browns disputed proposed AJ McCarron trade to NFL, arguing it should be allowed, per source. NFL declined - no trade, officially, per source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
NFL rejected Browns request to overturn AJ McCarron trade. Even though Browns’ notification of trade arrived moments too late, NFL said no.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2017
This is now a bad look as McCarron will be privy to the news while remaining in Cincinnati.
UPDATE 5:41 pm EST
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Browns were ready to move second and third-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft for McCarron, but they failed to notify the NFL on time.
The Browns are just the worst and this deal failed to happen because the Browns didn’t get their act together quickly enough.
The Bengals submitted the paper work but the Browns dragged their feet and failed to do what was necessary.
UPDATED: 10:22 pm EST
Try again: #Browns sent signed doc to #Bengals to sign and send to league, but #Bengals sent doc to #NFL only signed by them— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) October 31, 2017
A report emerged (see above Tweet) that the Browns sent the Bengals the signed paperwork to sign themselves in Cincinnati and then submit to the league. But, the Bengals (per this report) didn’t use that copy and just signed their own version and sent that to the league. Now, that’s being refuted and once again, it’s being reported that it was just the Browns who messed things up and the Bengals did what they were supposed to do.
Updated again: Spokesperson said the #Bengals never received any paperwork from the #Browns. #Bengals did their part https://t.co/PDoEuDfspP— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) November 1, 2017
Cabot also reported, “Several league sources told cleveland.com that separate documents from each team -- signed only by that team -- constitutes a trade. Bottom line: the league never received anything with the Browns signature on it.”
That means that the earlier report faulting the Bengals was completely inaccurate. What a ridiculous story... and imagine if it hadn’t gone completely wrong.