AJ McCarron is available for trade, but the Bengals aren’t just giving him away
by Dan Kadar
INDIANAPOLIS — With Jimmy Garoppolo supposedly off the table for a trade, the value for Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron has just gone up. And the Bengals will listen when teams come calling.
McCarron has been locked as the backup in Cincinnati behind Andy Dalton. But with one year left on his rookie deal, McCarron said after the season he “definitely wouldn’t be distraught at all” if he were traded. McCarron said his agent will handle things, but he wants to play.
Now that Garoppolo is not on the market, McCarron and Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon could be viewed as the top quarterbacks who could change teams.
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said he’ll listen to any offer for McCarron, but he values the former fifth-round pick.
“The larger point on AJ McCarron for us is that he’s a very valuable piece for what we do,” Tobin said at the combine on Wednesday. “It’s not a point where we’re saying ‘hey gee, what do we do with this guy because we don’t have a plan for him with us.’ He plays a very valuable position at backup quarterback, and you’re always one play away from going to your backup quarterback.”
In seven games for the Bengals, McCarron has completed 66 percent of his 119 passes for 854 yards and six touchdowns. That includes three starts in 2015 when Dalton had an injured thumb.
“If you don’t have a viable No. 2 quarterback to go with and win with, you can tank your entire season,” Tobin said. “He’s a very valuable piece of what we do. If somebody wants to call and talk to us, call and talk to us. But they’re going to find out we value AJ McCarron quite a bit.”
The value on McCarron can be hard to figure out. Some of the speculation regarding a potential Garoppolo trade is that it would cost a first-round pick. If that offer gets made, the Bengals will listen but Tobin was adamant about not shopping McCarron.
“We are not actively trying to diminish our football team by trading AJ McCarron, which that would diminish our football team,” Tobin said. “It has to be something we feel is valuable enough to warrant doing that. What that is, I don’t know. Who it is too, I don’t know.”
One of the teams that could come calling is the Cleveland Browns, a team with two first-round picks and believed to be one of the frontrunners for Garoppolo. Browns head coach Hue Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator when McCarron was picked out of Alabama in 2014.
“Ideally, it’s not ideal to trade guys within your division, particularly at that position, but again we listen and if something were to come up we’ll announce it to you guys,” Tobin said.