A. J. McCarron could still play for the Browns in 2018

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback AJ McCarron
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback AJ McCarron /

Former Alabama football quarterback, A.J. McCarron could still end up playing for the Cleveland Browns in 2018, depending on a NFL arbitrator’s decision.

A.J. Mccarron has waited a long time to become an NFL starting quarterback. Stuck behind Andy Dalton in four seasons with the Bengals, McCarron was almost traded to the Brown a few months ago.

The trade was apparently agreed to by both teams but still did not occur. It is not known why but the Browns failed to submit the signed paperwork before the NFL trade deadline. McCarron still has a chance to sign with another team depending on a mid-February arbitrator’s ruling.

McCarron and the NFLPA seek redress

The Bengals appear to still be willing to part ways with A.J., as long as it is a good business decision. The Bengals contend McCarron is a restricted free-agent making them entitled to future draft considerations in any deal. In an unprecedented argument, McCarron and the NFLPA are disputing the Bengals not counting A.J.’s rookie season towards free agency.

"McCarron’s grievance dates back to his rookie season in 2014, when the Bengals drafted him in the fifth round. McCarron initially passed his post-draft physical, but the Bengals placed him on the non-football injury (NFI) list at the start of training camp due to a shoulder issue. In McCarron’s opinion, he was healthy enough to come off the NFI list during training camp, which would have counted his rookie year towards free agency. But Cincinnati didn’t add McCarron to its active roster until Dec. 9, meaning it was too late for him to accrue a season toward his free agency."

In August 2014, nfl.com reported McCarron had a “tightness” in his shoulder but was able to make “55-60 yards throws.” A.J. did hurt his shoulder in October of his Alabama football senior season while diving into an end zone. He skipped the Senior Bowl that spring due to soreness in the shoulder.

There is little or no evidence A.J.’s shoulder problem changed between August and December 2014. The Bengals may have chosen to fill the roster spot with someone more likely to play.

Are the Browns still interested in A.J.? It is well-known Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson is a big McCarron fan. Jackson was the Bengals’ Offensive Coordinator in 2014 and 2015.

Does Hue Jackson believe McCarron can solve the Browns quarterback dilemma? A good review of why A.J. is a good choice for the Browns can be read at dawgpounddaily.com.

A.J. has never lacked confidence. Not even the 0-16 record posted by the Browns in 2017 deters McCarron from believing he could succeed in Cleveland. He may yet get that opportunity.

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The NFL arbitrator is scheduled to act on A.J.’s request on February 15th. Whatever the decision, it is reasonable to believe McCarron leaving the Bengals is assured. What is not known is when and under what financial terms.