AJ McCarron wins grievance, will become unrestricted free agent

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According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Cincinnati Bengals signal caller A.J. McCarron has won his grievance against the team and will be free to sign wherever he pleases in March.

Like with Glennon a year ago, teams will be digging for past tape on McCarron, and they'll like much of what they see from his 2015 season when he started three games for the Bengals, and was an overtime fumble against the eventual champion Denver Broncos away from winning all three. But you can make a list of a half-dozen or so teams that will want Cousins, and only one can get him. In training camp the Bengals put him on the non-football injury list and kept him there until December 9th, meaning he wasn't credited with the service time (six-plus games) to accrue a season toward free agency. McCarron contended his injury was wrongly listed as non-football, and an independent arbitrator agreed. The No. 164 overall pick of the 2014 draft, McCarron has attempted just 133 career passes. I loved the city, loved the fans, loved everything about it.

McCarron was almost traded to the Browns last season for second- and third-round picks but the NFL denied the deal because Cleveland didn't notify the league before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. In a league devoid of starting caliber quarterbacks, however, McCarron should find plenty of suitors on the open market. It's not insane to imagine the Browns signing McCarron as a guy they think can start in 2018 while whomever they draft - they have picks 1 and 4 in Round 1 - gets ready.

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McCarron, who guided Alabama to back-to-back national championships, could be a target of teams searching for stability at the quarterback position, such as the Browns, Jets, Cardinals or Broncos. The Browns are coached by Hue Jackson, who was McCarron's offensive coordinator with the Bengals for his first two seasons.

After his abbreviated rookie season, McCarron has spent the past three seasons as Andy Dalton's backup. By the time the Steelers came to town for the Wild Card Game, McCarron appeared comfortable with the pressure, but he struggled and the Bengals offense went nowhere.

Contract-wise, the very high end would be something like the three-year, $45 million deal that Mike Glennon got, unless a team is truly desperate. And who knows? Maybe they like him enough that, if they sign him, they decide they don't have to take a quarterback at the top of the draft.

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McCarron will surely have some interest in free agency.

Of course, any team that is going to give him an opportunity to start is going to give him a big contract. Maybe he can take the team farther than either of them if he ever gets a chance (like say if Dalton gets hurt again).

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