He already tried to get him once. He’s planning to take another crack at it in about a week, according to reports. According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson is looking to reunite his former quarterback, AJ McCarron, with whom he worked during the latter’s first two seasons while the former was offensive coordinator.
McCarron was a fifth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2014, while Jackson, as mentioned, was the offensive coordinator. That means that Jackson scouted him coming out of college and was able to offer his opinion about who they should draft. Clearly, he liked the Alabama quarterback.
Fast forward a few years and Jackson is now the Browns’ head coach, a franchise that has been bereft of a franchise quarterback for longer than it has been back in the league. The Browns’ new owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, support Jackson and believe that his record is a reflection of the play at quarterback, so they were willing to make a move in that area last year.
The Browns traded for McCarron at the trade deadline during the 2017 season, only to see the trade botched due to a clerical error, which makes room for conspiracy theories regarding sabotage. Either way, the point is that the move didn’t get made.
McCarron wasn’t happy about it, because at the time he was scheduled to be a restricted free agent due to the length of time he spent on the Non-Football Injury List in his rookie season. But he recently won his arbitration arguing that he was healthy enough for a long enough time that year to justify an accrued season, so he is now heading into unrestricted free agency.
King reported recently that a source told him the Browns are “still exceedingly interested” in getting McCarron, and that “that’s coach Hue Jackson’s preference”. The plan, he writes, is to add McCarron and then ‘backstop’ him with a rookie at the position.
The fact that the two already have a working relationship makes it a sensible matchup, of course. That they already tried to trade for him once is obviously a huge dot to connect, so to portray this as any sort of surprise would be facetious to say the least.
But realistically, Cleveland would make a lot of sense for a quarterback who has little meaningful playing experience, especially a year after Mike Glennon got one of the more ridiculous contracts in recent memory.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will have to explore their options for a new backup quarterback this year, either in free agency or through the draft, because they certainly are not going to be in the running to re-sign McCarron.