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ESPN predicts AJ McCarron to start for the Browns in 2018 NFL season

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According to ESPN’s bold predictions, the Browns and Bengals will finally figure out how to pull off the deal to get McCarron to Cleveland.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals

Where AJ McCarron will end up will most likely be decided after Kirk Cousins chooses which team he wants to go to.

McCarron is currently awaiting a decision on his grievance, which will determine whether he is a restricted or unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The very smart money is on him being a restricted free agent. That means any team looking to acquire McCarron would have to part way with some sort of compensation to get him.

ESPN recently put together a list of 10 bold predictions, and in that list they gave a landing spot for Cousins during free agency. They think the Jets will outbid the Browns for Cousins’ services. They didn’t stop there though.

They also predicted later that the Browns would trade for McCarron as well as draft a quarterback.

Josh Allen is the first pick in the April’s draft ... but he doesn’t start a game in 2018

The Browns take the big Wyoming quarterback No. 1 overall but sit him for at least a year behind AJ McCarron, whom they acquire when they lose out on Cousins. McCarron doesn’t love having to play with a first-round pick looking over his shoulder, but his reunion with coach Hue Jackson -- his former offensive coordinator in Cincinnati -- makes it more palatable. Besides, if you can win a couple of games with the Browns, think of how attractive that would look to future employers.

I think McCarron liked the idea of heading to Cleveland more when it was assumed he would be the guy there. Obviously, if the Browns take a quarterback in the top five picks, McCarron won’t be viewed as the long-term quarterback. It will also make his job difficult considering Hue Jackson may have a short leash next season, so if McCarron struggles Jackson could try throwing in Allen to try and save his job.

It isn’t all bad though. Cleveland does have some offensive talent despite what they put together last season. Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman are very talented receivers, and David Njoku proved he could be a real mismatch in a few seasons, not to mention they have a far better offensive line than what the Bengals had last season and a stable of talented runners, including Duke Johnson Jr.

If this is how it went down, then I don’t think McCarron would be too upset. If he gets a full season to show what he has before hitting free agency then I don’t think you could ask much more as a quarterback in his situation. You would probably like that opportunity to be somewhere aside from Cleveland but still. After all, beggars can’t be choosers.

There is still a very good chance the Browns don’t go through with this. It was clear from their last trade that the asking price for McCarron is fairly high. They could alternatively try and get whichever quarterback the Vikings let walk this offseason out of Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford.

The idea of the paying a second or third round pick for a quarterback they will only start for a season seems pretty dumb, but then again this is the Browns.