AJ McCarron was nearly freed from the captivity of his rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals last season.

An agreed-upon trade would have shipped the Bengals’ backup quarterback to the Cleveland Browns for a second- and third-round draft pick, but of course, the Browns were too busy celebrating the deal to call in the trade before the 4 p.m. deadline.

The trade was annulled by the NFL. McCarron returned to playing backup for Andy Dalton, and the Browns resumed their winless season with one of the league’s shoddiest quarterback situations.

They should have another chance in the offseason to land the former Alabama quarterback, along with various other interested teams. With all of the talk surrounding Kirk Cousins and the quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft, McCarron could legitimately sneak through the cracks as one of the dark horse free-agent options.

The Bengals wouldn’t be willing to fight tooth and nail to keep a bad quarterback on their roster. McCarron filed a grievance against the Bengals’ attempts to make him a restricted free agent in his fifth season. If the league rules on his side, he will become an unrestricted free agent and have an opportunity to play for the team of his choosing.