In Cleveland Browns rumors, A.J. McCarron is the frontrunner to start for the franchise now that he’s been ruled a free agent.
An arbitrator ruled that A.J. McCarron is now an unrestricted free agent, meaning the former fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft can sign where he pleases.
And the Cleveland Browns rumor mill chugging out speculation that the Browns are targeting the former Alabama standout.
Cleveland entered the offseason with Alex Smith as its No. 1 target. When the Chiefs moved their signal caller to the Redskins, McCarron, in addition to drafting Sam Darnold, became the Browns method moving forward, according to a team source who spoke to Mile High Sports’ Ben Allbright.
McCarron was almost traded to the Browns before last fall’s NFL trade deadline, but the inability of the teams to complete the paperwork prohibited the trade.
McCarron said after the season he wished the trade would’ve gone through, so that he could’ve proved himself in Cleveland.
It’s a good bet that Cleveland coach Hue Jackson would still like McCarron, because Jackson coached him when he was an assistant with the Bengals.
But now with John Dorsey calling the shots, Browns Town was left to wonder how much pull Jackson might have in deciding on a quarterback.
McCarron may be the compromise because his signing shouldn’t steer the Browns from taking a quarterback with the No. 1 pick in this spring’s draft. Jackson could then employ someone he trusts who might him some games.
If McCarron stinks, Darnold will be ready to take over, likely with a new head coach on the sideline.
For the rookie quarterback though, and I’m assuming it’s Darnold, this may not be the most ideal situation. McCarron appeared to be of good character biding his time as a backup in Cincinnati, but now that’s got the chance the start, is it fair of him to have him mentor a rookie?
Perhaps the Browns are more stable now though, with Hue Jackson hiring Todd Haley as offensive coordinator and Ken Zampese as the quarterbacks coach. Darnold won’t just have to lean on McCarron, he’d have experienced coaches dedicated to helping him develop.
The Browns have $110 million in salary cap, and the organization is going to have to use some of that to sign McCarron because free-agent quarterbacks tend to get paid.
The Dolphis lured Jay Cutler out of retirement last season for $10 million. The Bears paid gave $14 million to Mike Glennon to be a bridge quarterback to Mitch Trubisky. Alex Smith just signed a four-year, $90 million pact with the Chiefts with $71 million guaranteed.
The bottom line, quarterbacks get paid and that may be the case for McCarron.
When asked about the likelihood of the Broncos adding McCarron, Allbright didn’t see how big of a difference he’d be over Trevor Siemian.
That’s a lot of money for someone with a 2-1 career mark.
McCarron appeared in 11 games during his three-year NFL career, making just three starts. He’s completed six touchdowns against two interceptions.