Cleveland Browns: Signing AJ McCarron a bad idea

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback AJ McCarron (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback AJ McCarron (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

With the Cleveland Browns connected to free agent A.J. McCarron, there’s a case to be made against giving a lucrative contract to the former Bengal.

It is finally NFL Combine week, which means the Cleveland Browns will get their first up-close look at this year’s quarterback class. Chances are the team will select a quarterback with either the first-or-fourth-overall pick.

However, it is not a sure thing.

The Browns could elect to hand Kirk Cousins a blank check and hope for the best. He is set to hit the open market after the Washington Redskins acquired Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Or they could target last year’s failed trade deadline acquisition in A.J. McCarron. The former Cincinnati Bengal will be an unrestricted free agent after winning a grievance against Cincy earlier this offseason.

Cleveland obviously likes the 27-year-old quarterback, or at least head coach Hue Jackson does, enough to give up significant draft capital for an unproven commodity. McCarron has started just four games in his four-year career, including one playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Liking his skillset is one thing. Signing him is another. Hitching your franchise to him is something completely different. And that is something the Browns cannot do.

First and foremost, as previously stated, McCarron is extremely unproven. With just four starts under his belt, there has not been enough time for a fair evaluation. And with that, certainly not enough time under center to warrant a hefty contract.

Even when he has played, McCarron has not set the world on fire, per se. In his three regular season starts, McCarron never threw for over 200 yards in a single game. He was slightly better in the playoff game, totaling 212 yards through the air.

This aligns with the thought that if McCarron was truly a franchise quarterback, he would have begun starting games over Andy Dalton. As is well-known, Dalton has never won a playoff game in his career. A franchise quarterback would have displaced Dalton long ago.

Also, McCarron’s situation is very similar to veteran quarterbacks who have received hefty contracts on the open market and then flopped.

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Brock Osweiler started just seven games before the Houston Texans gave him a four-year contract worth $72 million two years ago. The same goes for Mike Glennon. The Chicago Bears handed him $45 million over three years when he had just 13 starts under his belt over three years. Both players were at least 26-years-old. McCarron is now 27.

It is not fair to say McCarron will be the next Osweiler or Glennon. However, there are frightening similarities – vets who are inexperienced, yet have/had some believers.

For the Browns, they can do much better. Heck, even with McCarron, this team is not going to be competitive. They could win maybe for or five games. With a veteran like Josh McCown, who is older and would come cheaper with less years, the Browns would win a game or two less. That is certainly not worth paying McCarron for.

Also, the rookie the Browns bring in is going to be a starter relatively soon. Signing McCarron to a lucrative, multi-year deal limits that upside.

Next: Nick Foles trade talk not going away

For some reason, Coach Jackson is enamored with the free agent quarterback. Browns fans should hope he does not get his wish.