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Bengals Byte (2/16): Carrying on with the same plan

AJ McCarron won his grievance, but the Bengals still have to find a backup quarterback for next season.

Detroit Lions v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

A.J. McCarron Wins Grievance Against Bengals, Earns Right To Disappoint Browns
Quarterback A.J. McCarron defeated the Bengals’ attempt to game his service time today, with an arbitrator ruling in McCarron’s favor on a grievance involving an injury designation from his rookie season in 2014. The decision means McCarron, who backed up Andy Dalton for three seasons and attempted just 14 passes the last two years, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next month. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported it first.

Ranking AJ McCarron landing spots: Browns get a second chance at quarterback
Bengals backup quarterback -- excuse me, former Bengals backup quarterback -- AJ McCarron got some great personal news on Thursday night, when he found out he won his grievance against the Bengals, a decision that will make him a free agent once the new league year begins. McCarron, who famously once likened himself to Tom Brady, was slated to be a restricted free agent, but it was ruled he should have received full credit for his 2014 rookie season (he wasn't activated until December) so now he gets some salary paid back and will hit the open market, assuming the Bengals do not franchise tag him this month.

AJ McCarron wins grievance against Cincinnati Bengals, will be unrestricted free agent
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron got his wish. He will be an unrestricted free agent on March 14 after an arbiter ruled Thursday in favor of the backup quarterback in his grievance against the Bengals.

Welcome to the 2018 NFL QB market, AJ McCarron: Why he's interesting
At first glance, this AJ McCarron news might not strike you as much. A fifth-round pick who’s started four games in four NFL seasons can now be an unrestricted free agent. Big whoop, right? Are teams really going to line up to throw money at him just because they can? Thing is, though, McCarron plays quarterback. And that position makes NFL teams do funny things. Just a year ago, Mike Glennon was a 27-year-old free agent with 18 career starts -- none since 2014 -- and the Bears signed him for $18.5 million guaranteed.

McCarron's freedom won't alter off-season plans
An arbitrator’s decision at the close of business Thursday to make Bengals back-up quarterback AJ McCarron an unrestricted free doesn’t appear to change their off-season plans. They're still looking for a No. 2 QB. Even if the decision went the club’s way and McCarron was deemed a restricted free agent, there was a more than decent shot the Bengals weren’t going to have him anyway for the upcoming season either via a trade or letting him sign elsewhere in exchange for compensation and they’ve already been perusing options in free agency and the draft.

TDBH: Bengals give franchise tag a kick with Graham
Jim Breech, the Bengals' all-time scorer, never comes close to making $2.5 million in a 13-year career that comes up just short and slightly wide right of free agency. But he's happy for Shayne Graham after Graham becomes the only Bengals kicker in history today to be tabbed with the one-year franchise tag of $2.48 million when free agency begins next week. Graham, 31, has top five numbers. He ranks fourth all-time in the NFL in career field goal accuracy (85.6 percent) behind the retired Mike Vanderjagt (86.5), San Diego's Nate Kaeding (86.1), Robbie Gould (85.9), and ahead of Rob Bironas (84.5). Graham holds numerous other Bengals career, season and game records with points in a season (131), field goals in a season (31), field goals in a game (seven), consecutive field goals made (21), season field-goal percentage (91.2), consecutive PATs (158).

McCarron savors Bengals memories
AJ McCarron has both footballs in his trophy case in Mobile, Ala. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green handed him the big one, the ball he caught from McCarron with 1:50 left from 25 yards away to give the Bengals that breath-taking 16-15 lead over the Steelers in the Wild Wild Card Game of 2015. Green caught the other one, too, and it was also against the Steelers a few weeks before, a 66-yard bomb that was McCarron’s first NFL touchdown pass. Except Green picked that moment for the first end-zone celebration of his career and punted it into the Paul Brown Stadium stands.

A.J. McCarron Wins Grievance Against Bengals, Earns Right To Disappoint Browns
Quarterback A.J. McCarron defeated the Bengals’ attempt to game his service time today, with an arbitrator ruling in McCarron’s favor on a grievance involving an injury designation from his rookie season in 2014. The decision means McCarron, who backed up Andy Dalton for three seasons and attempted just 14 passes the last two years, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next month. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported it first.

Ranking AJ McCarron landing spots: Browns get a second chance at quarterback
Bengals backup quarterback -- excuse me, former Bengals backup quarterback -- AJ McCarron got some great personal news on Thursday night, when he found out he won his grievance against the Bengals, a decision that will make him a free agent once the new league year begins. McCarron, who famously once likened himself to Tom Brady, was slated to be a restricted free agent, but it was ruled he should have received full credit for his 2014 rookie season (he wasn't activated until December) so now he gets some salary paid back and will hit the open market, assuming the Bengals do not franchise tag him this month.

AJ McCarron wins grievance against Cincinnati Bengals, will be unrestricted free agent
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron got his wish. He will be an unrestricted free agent on March 14 after an arbiter ruled Thursday in favor of the backup quarterback in his grievance against the Bengals.

Welcome to the 2018 NFL QB market, AJ McCarron: Why he's interesting
At first glance, this AJ McCarron news might not strike you as much. A fifth-round pick who’s started four games in four NFL seasons can now be an unrestricted free agent. Big whoop, right? Are teams really going to line up to throw money at him just because they can? Thing is, though, McCarron plays quarterback. And that position makes NFL teams do funny things. Just a year ago, Mike Glennon was a 27-year-old free agent with 18 career starts -- none since 2014 -- and the Bears signed him for $18.5 million guaranteed.

McCarron's freedom won't alter off-season plans
An arbitrator’s decision at the close of business Thursday to make Bengals back-up quarterback AJ McCarron an unrestricted free doesn’t appear to change their off-season plans. They're still looking for a No. 2 QB. Even if the decision went the club’s way and McCarron was deemed a restricted free agent, there was a more than decent shot the Bengals weren’t going to have him anyway for the upcoming season either via a trade or letting him sign elsewhere in exchange for compensation and they’ve already been perusing options in free agency and the draft.

AFC North Bytes

Fate of the Entire NFL Is (Somehow) in the Hands of the Browns
Welcome to the start of the offseason, otherwise known as the closest thing to a Super Bowl the Browns experience each year. You are probably aware that the Browns possess the first and fourth picks in this year's draft, plus the 33rd and 35th picks, plus plenty of later selections, plus a staggering $110 million in cap space. So they are the team in the spotlight right now.

Steelers may redo more contracts, release veterans to create salary cap room
The Steelers probably are not finished restructuring player contracts — or perhaps releasing veterans — in order to create more salary cap room. “We’ve done some things already with some restructures,” general manager Kevin Colbert said after they reworked the deals of Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro this week. “We won’t close the door on having to make further moves.”

Random Bytes

Does the NFL Care About Johnny Manziel's #ComebackSZN?
It was just two years ago that Johnny Manziel was accused of domestic violence. "He grabbed me by my hair and threw me back into the car and got back in himself," his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, reportedly told police. "He hit me with his open hand on my left ear for jumping out of the car. I realized immediately that I could not hear out of that ear, and I still cannot today, two days later."

Predicting the Biggest Contracts in 2018 NFL Free Agency
In less than a month, 453 NFL players are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Many will never play professional football again, while others will sign new contracts or get hit with the franchise tag before seeing the open market. Most will sign standard deals that are unremarkable by NFL standards. But every March, about a dozen stars or potential stars get introduced to Brink's trucks.

Larry Fitzgerald Puts off Retirement to Return to Cardinals for 15th NFL Season
Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks told the Doug & Wolf Show on 98.7 FM that Fitzgerald informed him he will return to the team next season. The 34-year-old receiver will continue his career as one of the most productive players in NFL history. He has 11 Pro Bowl appearances and currently ranks third all-time in both receptions (1,234) and yards (15,545), leading all active players in each category.