NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala tweeted the buzz of McCarron's role with the team:
What I hear: Bengals didn't bring in McCarron to unseat Dalton right now. Believe will be good for him to develop behind Dalton, Campbell— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) May 10, 2014
Dalton's had a roller-coaster tenure with the Bengals since being selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. He's improved each season as a starter, setting franchise records for passing yards (4,293) and passing touchdowns (33) in 2013.
Under Dalton's command, the Bengals have also reached the playoffs in three consecutive seasons—a feat the franchise had never previously accomplished.
Although, it all starts to go downhill when looking at Dalton's playoff numbers.
The quarterback holds an 0-3 record in three postseason starts, passing for a total of 718 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions for a passer rating of 56.2.
That's a big concern, considering the huge drop in production from the regular season.
This leads us to the drafting of McCarron.
The Alabama product posted a stellar record under Nick Saban, going 36-4 in three years as a starter with three national championship appearances. He was also the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2013.
Although McCarron has a good amount of college experience and seems to be a natural leader, many of his qualities are very similar to Dalton.
McCarron stands at 6'3" and weighs 220 pounds, according to NFL.com. Dalton is 6'2" and shares McCarron's weight. Both have less-than-stellar arm strength but are rather accurate on short-to-intermediate routes.
Both quarterbacks have shown decent decision-making ability, but each rely on a strong supporting cast to get the job done.
So, why bring in McCarron?
During an interview with Judy Battista of NFL.com, head coach Marvin Lewis began to explain:
Frankly, you don't want a guy in here that doesn't want to start at quarterback. There's a tension, but also a graduation that can occur. It's happened throughout the league. Guys graduate and they move on. And everybody understands that. But maybe graduation is after three or four seasons. We all have to worry about four years down the road. Hopefully Andy should be, in quick order, under contract for four years down the road. As long as you continue to play at that level, there's never anything to worry about.
So, there we have it.
Lewis hopes Dalton will be the guy going forward; however, having an insurance policy in McCarron doesn't hurt one bit.
McCarron will either become Cincinnati's future starter should Dalton falter, or he will be a quality backup for the long haul.
Needless to say, Dalton must realize the impact of having another potential starting-caliber quarterback on the team.
Dion Caputi of the National Football Post tweeted exactly what the Bengals hope McCarron will do for the team:
McCarron to the Bengals doesn't mean Andy Dalton is out A 5th round QB is good grooming project & hopefully lights a fire under the starter.— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) May 10, 2014
With one of the league's best defenses, a wide receiver corps that would make any quarterback jealous and a budding running game, there's no reason for the team to stick with Dalton should he continue to struggle in the postseason.
Dalton needs a push, and McCarron will give it to him.
When will AJ McCarron start for the Bengals?
Even though Dalton won't be in competition with McCarron for the quarterback position in training camp, McCarron's presence should be enough to get a spark out of the team's starter.
This season will be a breaking point for Dalton and the Bengals.
The team is expected to once again compete for the AFC North crown and make another trip to the playoffs. We'll find out then if Dalton has been pushed enough to turn the corner and play at another level.
If he can't, McCarron will be there waiting in the wings.
Dalton knows that.