AJ McCarron is celebrating. His career in Cincinnati is over. The Bengals will send him off, take their 2019 compensatory draft pick for him, and perhaps take a look at the current draft class and the veteran free agent market a little more closely. McCarron’s biggest value to the Bengals was that they knew if Andy Dalton had to miss time, he could seamlessly run the offense and steer the ship toward victory. It’s a valuable commodity. Just look at Nick Foles and Case Keenum last year. But now that McCarron is gone, the Bengals can reboot the back end of the depth chart – and don’t be surprised if they do it the same way they did by drafting McCarron in the fifth-round in 2014. They have the luxury of not needing an immediate starter, so they can address other needs early and then take a polished, successful college passer in the middle rounds to groom much like McCarron. Remember, Marvin Lewis believes nothing can torpedo a team quicker than a quarterback controversy – and the team isn't going to create one on purpose. But, drafting a QB offers them some long-term protection as that rookie’s contract will extend beyond Andy Dalton’s by a year. What will be interesting is if the team takes a page out of the New England Patriots’ playbook and draft a quarterback in the second or third round. Despite having Tom Brady, the Patriots took Jacoby Brissett in the third round in 2016, Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014 and Ryan Mallett in the third round in 2011. They traded all of those players for future picks, but it’s a chance for the team to perhaps flip that quarterback for a load of future draft choices down the line while also putting some immediate heat in the room to push incumbents Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel.
What does the AJ McCarron decision mean for the team?
Cincinnati Enquirer | Feb 18