So, what went wrong with AJ McCarron’s litigation?
Many among the NFL media thought the Bengals would win the case the backup quarterback brought to light against the team. McCarron claimed he was unfairly designated on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list at the start of his NFL career. The Bengals felt they rightly put him there. Now, McCarron is set to be an unrestricted free agent after an independent arbitrator deemed he was unfairly put on that list.
According to Pro Football Talk, the arbitrator in the case concluded that McCarron did not receive a medical examination before being placed on the NFI list, and that the evidence did “not firmly establish that McCarron would have failed the exam. Indeed, by Dr. Galloway’s admission, McCarron would have passed it.”
With that said, it does appear the Bengals were in the wrong in placing McCarron on the NFI list. You would have thought the Bengals would have followed the rule requiring them to give McCarron a physical to prove his health. This isn’t the team’s first rodeo, after all.
On Wednesday at the NFL Combine, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin explained the team’s side of the story.
“We got the wrong opinion,” Tobin said. “We didn’t agree with it. But it’s the opinion we have. Opinions are like arm pits. We all have them, most of them stink. That’s the opinion we had and we’ll move forward with it and adjust accordingly.”
With McCarron now set to become an unrestricted free agent in just about two weeks, the Bengals are likely to lose their backup quarterback to a team willing to pay starter money for him.
“We lose a guy that attacked the game just exactly the way he should have. He was a consummate pro for us,” Tobin said. “I consider him a close friend. He’s got what it takes. He desperately desires an opportunity to prove himself. If he finds that, we wish him well, I wish him well. I’m excited for him and his future, but we lose a guy that plays a position that’s extremely important, which is backup quarterback. And we’ll have to go out and attack that spot and see who the next guy will be in that role.”
Expect McCarron to be gone in two weeks and for the Bengals to be looking for their next backup quarterback. Will the team pick a quarterback with the No. 12 pick in the NFL Draft? Tobin wouldn’t say, unlike how Marvin Lewis completely shutdown talk of any potential for the Bengals to draft a quarterback with the No. 9 pick last year.
“We feel very good about Andy as our starting quarterback,” Tobin said when asked if the Bengals could pick a quarterback in the first round. “I’m not going to make any bold predictions on the draft, what we will or what we won’t do.”
He did admit there was no point in which the Bengals gave McCarron a real shot at earning the starting job at the quarterback position.
“No, we feel very confident and comfortable with Andy Dalton as our starting quarterback. We felt good if AJ had to go in the game, but we feel good about what Andy’s done,” Tobin said. “Andy has been able to play at the top of the league in the past. We have to play better around him, we have to support him with a better running game, better pass protection. He’s got to make more explosive plays down the field, and that’s part of the wide out’s job, part of the tight end’s job and part him... The sky’s the limit for Andy so no, we did not look at starting AJ over Andy.”