Earlier this week, we mentioned that Bengals QB A.J. McCarron was expecting a ruling this week on his grievance to determine whether he’d be a RFA or an URFA. The ruling came in on Thursday, and it favored McCarron big time:
Bengals’ QB AJ McCarron won his grievance against Cincinnati and now will be an unrestricted free agent, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 15, 2018
Whether you’re interested in McCarron being the Browns’ quarterback in 2018 or not, you still have to see this as a potential victory for Cleveland if Hue Jackson pushes hard to pursue him again. The Browns would have had to trade a 2nd- and 3rd-round pick for half a season of his services last year (thank God that Sashi Brown botched that deal at the last second). Now, Cleveland can get him without parting ways with any draft picks, which doubles this as a big loss to the Bengals.
If you think McCarron can’t possibly be paid very much, then all you need to do is look at what Mike Glennon got from the Chicago Bears last season. That means a lot of guaranteed money up front, but a team-friendly contract down the road, which would fit a team like Cleveland who hopes to groom their quarterback of the future with one of their two top-5 picks. But by McCarron hitting the open market, his price tag will go up a bit as the secondary free agent quarterback to those who miss out on QB Kirk Cousins.
UPDATE: Benjamin Albright also heard this in January:
Source told me back in January: #Browns plan if they missed on Alex Smith, was AJ McCarron and probably Darnold.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) February 15, 2018