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NFL free agency: Could AJ McCarron actually re-sign with the Bengals?

NFL teams are grabbing their starting quarterbacks, and none of them are grabbing McCarron. Could a return to the Bengals be the best thing for him?

Cincinnati Bengals v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

When AJ McCarron won his case last month with an arbitrator ruling that he would become an unrestricted free agent a year earlier than the Cincinnati Bengals had hoped for, the McCarron camp had reason to celebrate. He could now pursue his dream of finding a team would would give him a chance to start. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t have picked a worse time to hit free agency.

McCarron hit free agency in a year with a plethora of adequate quarterbacks hitting the market - all of whom have better resumes than McCarron.

Some free agent quarterbacks in the 2018 offseason:

  • Kirk Cousins: 16,200 passing yards, 99 passing touchdowns, 26 wins

- Signing with the Vikings

  • Case Keenum: almost 9,000 passing yards, 46 touchdowns and 20 wins

- Signing with the Broncos

  • Sam Bradford: over 19,000 passing yards, 101 touchdowns and 34 wins

- Signing with the Cardinals

  • Teddy Bridgewater: 6,150 yards, 28 touchdowns and 17 wins, plus first round talent

- Signing with the Jets

  • Brock Osweiler: 6,100 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 wins

- Not yet signed

  • Mike Glennon: almost 5,000 career yards and 34 touchdowns

- Signing with the Cardinals

Against that group, the 27-year-old McCarron has a a meager 920 passing yards and 6 touchdowns, along with a pair of wins.

Heading into the offseason, the Browns seemed like the best match for McCarron, since they had tried to trade for him mid-season. But the Browns just traded for stopgap Tyrod Taylor, and wouldn’t be looking to sign a second stopgap quarterback - especially with the draft capital to finally add a franchise quarterback in the draft to sit behind Taylor. Beyond Cleveland, the news doesn’t get any better for McCarron as most of the quarterback-needy teams have already filled their need for a starter, and none of those teams sought McCarron.

Beyond the above, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith and the Saints re-signed Drew Brees. Even this morning, the Bears signed Chase Daniel to be their backup. The only team currently without a starting quarterback is the Buffalo Bills, who are positioning themselves to move up in the draft to select a quarterback to compete with second-year man Nathan Peterman. Adding McCarron wouldn’t make any sense for them, unless they miss on a quarterback during the draft, or are ready to move on from Peterman after one season.

Also working against McCarron is that the 2018 NFL Draft is widely considered to be deep in high-end quarterback talent. Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Lamar Jackson could all be drafted in the first round, which further diminishes the opportunity for McCarron to find a home with a team who will give him an opportunity to become a starter.

With McCarron all but certain at this point to not find a home on an NFL roster as an immediate starter, his only options at this point look to be signing elsewhere as a backup, or returning to the Bengals as a backup. In that scenario, he would probably be better served returning to the Bengals on a one-year deal as a backup to Andy Dalton. McCarron already knows the offense and has had some success with the Bengals. Should Dalton get injured, McCarron would have a chance to showcase his skills heading into the 2019 free agency period. And even if Dalton doesn’t get injured, McCarron should face less competition when he hits free agency in 2019.


Should the Bengals bring back McCarron as a backup with the QB-market drying up?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    (918 votes)
  • 6%
    (80 votes)
  • 24%
    Wait it out and see how long he lasts on the market.
    (321 votes)
1319 votes total Vote Now