The Cincinnati Bengals have put their money where their mouth is when it comes to AJ McCarron.
Despite McCarron being just a backup quarterback, the Bengals have consistently stressed his value on this team is very high. During the last two years, Cincinnati has allegedly rebuffed multiple trade offers for McCarron, who they have faith in to run this offense if Andy Dalton misses time.
According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Bengals were offered a second-round pick for the former fifth-rounder this offseason, but ultimately turned it down.
Speaking of the Bengals, I’d be surprised if they move AJ McCarron for anything short of a blow-em-away deal. Cincinnati could have had a second-round pick for him this offseason, and chose to keep him, with the logic being if they deal him, they’ll have to spend a pick to replace him. And if they just keep him and let him walk in 2018, they’ll get a comp pick back anyway.
This follows a report that emerged yesterday that the Broncos were interested in McCarron, as well as seven other teams. But, the Broncos have denied the claim.
If the offer from the team Breer is referring to came this offseason, my guess is it was the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, New York Jets or San Francisco 49ers prior to the NFL Draft. Those were the desperate teams at the time, but Cleveland and Houston ultimately spent high picks on quarterbacks in DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson respectively.
The Jets and 49ers never really addressed their quarterback situations, so perhaps one of them offered a pick for McCarron after the draft. Regardless, the real story here is the Bengals turning down a high draft pick to keep their backup quarterback for at least one more season.
Mike Brown, Duke Tobin and Marvin Lewis have frequently praised McCarron and his value to the team. If McCarron is to become a starter in the NFL, it almost certainly won’t happen with the Bengals as long as Dalton is here, so McCarron will likely leave the second he hits free agency.
The question is, when will that come? McCarron is going through arbitration amidst a contract dispute as to whether he’s an unrestricted or restricted free agent in 2018. If McCarron is a restricted free agent in 2018, that means whoever has McCarron on their roster next year could use a first-round tender on him, which means any team that signs him to an offer sheet must give that team a first-round pick in addition to paying the contract to which they sign McCarron.
It would be unlikely any team does that, so whichever team has McCarron entering the 2017 season will very likely have him in 2018 as well, if they so choose, if he is in fact a restricted free agent. But if McCarron is an unrestricted free agent, he’ll likely leave next offseason and sign a deal with another team that could net the Bengals a third-round compensatory pick (at the most), though it’s more likely to be in the fourth or fifth-round range.
So in the end, the Bengals are all but assured of getting some compensation for losing McCarron. It’s just a matter of how much and when it arrives. For now, expect it to be a 2019 compensatory pick, which my guess would be as a fourth-round selection.
If the Bengals did in fact turn down a second round pick for McCarron, they truly do value him a whole lot more than most teams value their backup quarterback.