Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but a team that may well end up trading a player is denying that they have any interest in trading said player. It’s quite a familiar story that happens several times every year, and you can be sure that not all of them end up with the player staying on the team that isn’t looking to trade him.
In this case, we are talking about the Cincinnati Bengals and their backup quarterback, AJ McCarron, who logged some significant playing time during the home stretch of the 2015 season after starter Andy Dalton was injured. McCarron completed over 66 percent of his passes, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt, throwing six touchdowns to two interceptions with three starts, on 119 total pass attempts.
McCarron was a fifth-round pick out of Alabama in the 2014 NFL Draft. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Non-Football Injury list before seeing time in action in 2015. He did not throw a pass last season. Because of his injury during his rookie season, it will be up to a neutral arbitrator to determine if he has two or three years of accrued experience (or if his contract will toll), which will impact his free agency status.
The Cleveland Browns have been frequently linked to possible trading opportunities in their quest for a new franchise quarterback, and Head Coach Hue Jackson certainly hasn’t quieted things down. While he denied that they would trade their first-overall selection, he entertained the idea of seemingly any other trade scenario involving any team and any other selection.
Jackson, as you may know, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, meaning that he had a lot of experience coaching McCarron. He nearly got the young backup to marshal the Bengals to a playoff victory over the Steelers before a late fumble changed the dynamic of the game.
So naturally Marvin Lewis, the head coach of the Bengals, was asked about the scenario posed, if they would be willing to deal McCarron for potentially the Browns’ 12th-overall pick in the first round. Lewis quipped that the first-overall pick should be in consideration.
“AJ McCarron is a valuable member of our football team”, he said. “No one has asked to trade him. We’re not going to go out and seek a trade for AJ McCarron. He’s a valuable member of the team. We’ve said that how many times?”, he asked.
But what he didn’t say is where the interesting part lies. He said that they won’t seek a trade. He said that nobody has called about wanting to trade for him yet. He did not say that they will not entertain trade offers for him.
There are enough valid links between the Bengals and the Browns to justify speculation about the potential that this trade could happen in the future, if something else doesn’t happen first, such as a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s entirely possible that the Browns use their 12th-overall pick to make a trade and then still use their 33rd-overall pick to draft another quarterback.