In a surprising turn of events, former Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron won his arbitration case against the Bengals and was ruled an unrestricted free agent. As one of the leagues most prized backups over the last few years, he is set to finally become a starter and make a lot of money doing it.
Even though there are oodles of quarterbacks on the market this year, with some big names like Kirk Cousins and Sam Bradford on the market, and Nick Foles presumably on the trading block, what options are out there for McCarron?
After sitting behind Andy Dalton his whole career, McCarron will most likely end up signing with a team that will want to start him right away. There are only four teams with an immediate need for a starting quarterback: the Broncos, the Browns, the Jaguars and the Jets. These teams are the most likely candidates to sign McCarron, since he would be the starter from day one.
Unencumbered by restrictions or red-headed franchise quarterbacks, McCarron is bound to make a big splash this spring. The only questions is where?
McCarron going to the Browns would be the least surprising, since they tried to trade for him five minutes before the trade deadline in 2017. In typcial Cleveland fashion, however, the Browns failed and did so hilariously. McCarron would be reunited with Hue Jackson his former offensive coordinator that coached him during the only four starts of his career back in 2015.
Coming from an organization that has rested its franchise hopes on a quarterback who had glaring off-the-field issues and a quarterback coming off of a four-win season in college, signing McCarron would be the best decision the organization has made at the quarterback position in quite some time.
McCarron and the Broncos have been linked in rumor on and off over the last season. This would also make sense, since John Elway has fallen under fire for failing to fortify the position where he once dominated. Elway has taken chances on a first round draft pick, a former third-string quarterback, and the guy they thought would be Peyton Manning’s successor. Its about time the Broncos stopped taking a chance on an unproven commodity; they need the talent that McCarron can bring to the Mile High City.
The Broncos have probably entered the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, but it would not be surprising if they take McCarron as a consolation prize.
The Jaguars are in win now mode with one of the league’s up-and-coming defenses. They won two games in the playoffs with Blake Bortles in 2017, yet opted out of the final year of his contract. They are clearly looking for a quarterback who get them to the AFC championship again, and then to the Super Bowl.
Tom Coughlin will probably not be able to draft a franchise quarterback in 2018, since they are sitting in the 29th spot. All five of the first round caliber quarterbacks are likely to be taken by then, so the Jags will need to find a free agent to fill their void under center. With the amount of defensive talent on their payroll, the Jags may not be able to afford Cousins or Foles, so McCarron might be their guy.
McCarron might be able to find a job in New York playing for the Jets. The franchise’s best quarterbacks over the last ten years have been Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick, so its safe to say that they could use a facelift at the position. Head coach Todd Bowles is in hot water and needs to win to keeps his job. Should he sign McCarron and avoid whiffing on picks like Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg? Most mock drafts have the Jets taking a quarterback in the draft, so its not likely to see McCarron here. But its not outside the realm of possibilities.
Another dark horse to take McCarron might be the Buffalo Bills. Even though they will still have incumbent starter Tyrod Taylor under contract, McCarron may still play first fiddle. Sean McDermott and the Bills had no qualms about benching Taylor for Nathan Peterman; Taylor’s job would be in grave danger if the Bills added a quarterback that has a rating above 40. Again, the Bills are projected to draft a quarterback, so this may or may not come to fruition.
Who will AJ McCarron play for in 2018?
This poll is closed
The Cleveland Browns
The Denver Broncos
The Jacksonville Jaguars
The New York Jets
The Buffalo Bills