While Lewis said the situation is less than ideal for everybody involved, he added he's happy he didn't have to tell McCarron about being traded, per ESPN.com's Katherine Terrell:
"AJ is a very valuable member of this team. I told him as such yesterday. Frankly, I was relieved so I don't have to go through those gymnastics of the next step. He's a great kid. He's a true team player. He's a leader. He's a leader on this football team and that's why we felt like he is such a valuable asset. [Team owner Mike Brown] was very clear about that about how we felt about him."
According to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, a procedural error by the Browns nullified their proposed trade for McCarron. Cleveland failed to send the necessary documentation to the NFL's league office in order to finalize the deal.
One can't help but wonder whether Lewis' comments Wednesday represent his true feelings. After all, he can't exactly say he's disappointed McCarron didn't get traded when the 27-year-old quarterback is still a Bengals player.
The inability to complete the trade is also a big missed opportunity for Cincinnati. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Jim Owczarski, the Bengals would've received second and third-round picks in 2018 for McCarron. In comparison, the New England Patriots nabbed only a second-rounder for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Two picks inside the first three rounds would've been great compensation for a quarterback who has started three games and will be a restricted free agent after this season.
All is not lost for the Bengals, though. Since McCarron is only hitting restricted free agency, Cincinnati can use a one-year tender on him, in which case the Bengals would receive a draft pick as compensation if he signed elsewhere. A first-round tender was worth $3.91 million last offseason.