AJ McCarron Wins Grievance vs. Bengals, Will Become Free Agent

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2018

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 10:  AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Quarterback AJ McCarron will be an unrestricted free agent in March after winning his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The 2014 fifth-round pick filed a grievance in November, claiming his rookie season should have counted toward free agency despite spending time on the non-football injury list.

He believes he was healthy enough to play despite not seeing the field as a rookie.

Without the grievance, he would have been a restricted free agent, and the Bengals could have made it difficult for another team to sign him by placing a first-round tender on the quarterback. He will now have a chance to sign with any team in the league.

Many believe this could lead to a big pay day:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

For soon-to-be free agent AJ McCarron, the ramifications are massive. A starting-caliber QB is now on the market. He wants to play, he’s gonna get paid a lot to play. And the #Bengals need a new backup.

Bill Barnwell @billbarnwell

Is A.J. McCarron going to get the Mike Glennon free-agent special?

McCarron has only appeared in 11 games in his career while sitting behind Andy Dalton. His only extended stretch of action came after Dalton suffered an injury in 2015, allowing the backup to start four games, finishing 2-2 including a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The 27-year-old has 93.6 career quarterback rating, throwing six touchdown passes with two interceptions in 133 attempts.

He was almost dealt to the Cleveland Browns prior to the trade deadline this season, but the Browns didn't approve the trade to the league, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. This ruined what could have been the young player's first legitimate chance to play.

"As a competitor, I wanted that opportunity, just to be able to showcase and help a team win ball games," McCarron said in January, per Creg Stephenson of AL.com.

As a free agent, McCarron can choose the Browns are any other team that will give him an opportunity to earn a starting job in 2018.