Broncos may make a run at A.J. McCarron, if he’s an unrestricted free agent

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Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron will learn as soon as today whether he’ll be a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent in March. If it’s the latter, he could have a suitor in Colorado.

Appearing on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports Network said that the Broncos would be interested in McCarron, if McCarron becomes a free-and-clear free agent. (The NFL contends that McCarron’s rookie season on the non-football injury list keeps him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.)

The Broncos know what McCarron can do. Replacing injured starter Andy Dalton in December 2015, McCarron forced overtime during a pivotal Monday night game that ultimately paved the way for Denver to claim the No. 1 seed. If Cincinnati had won that game, the Broncos likely wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl.

McCarron also did everything in his power to help the Bengals end their lengthy postseason drought two weeks later, in a wild-card game against the Steelers. It was the defense that blew it for the Bengals, not McCarron.

With 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo getting $27.5 million per year based on seven largely meaningless career regular-season starts, what would McCarron be worth on the open market with three meaningless regular-season starts and one prime-time playoff game? Everyone may soon be finding out, and it could be the Broncos who end up being the ones who pay McCarron.

69 responses to “Broncos may make a run at A.J. McCarron, if he’s an unrestricted free agent

  1. He’s worth every penny that Dalton is currently getting, at least! I don’t hate Andy Dalton but he’s made it perfectly clear that the only way the Bengals can get deep in the playoffs is if the defense is top 5 and he has to be surrounded by a great o-line and top talent on the outside in addition to A.J. Green.

    Lets give Mccarron a chance. We aren’t going anywhere with Dalton.

  2. >.The Broncos know what McCarron can do

    Do they? He played in 1 game. Thats not much of a sample size.

    And if he was so good why didn’t the Bengals give him some 4th quarter playing time now and then to show case him?

  3. I just took a look at AJs stats in the NFL.
    Looks like a solid backup to me.
    I’d sign him at the Vets minimum and let him compete with whatever they can scrape up (Siemien, Paxton Lynch?)

  4. That is Vic Lombardi’s opinion and not based on anything out of the Bronco’s front office. Of course, it’s no secret they need a QB and until they sign one, no one if off the table.

  5. Given the trade deadline nonsense from last year, it seems as if the Bengals are looking to get rid of him anyway. So if the NFL wins and he is stuck on the Bengals for one more season, the Broncos or Browns or anyone else can always trade for him.

  6. “McCarron also did everything in his power to help the Bengals end their lengthy postseason drought two weeks later, in a wild-card game against the Steelers. It was the defense that blew it for the Bengals, not McCarron”

    He had the game won, something the Red Popgun has never been able to do, and then those idiots literally gave the game to the Steelers.

  7. Yeah, as a fan of this team I cant say I like this. McCarron may be alright, but is probably not much better than Lynch, Siemien, Osweiler. If you are going to go outside of the organization, which I think they should do – go after Cousins. He is definitely an upgrade (although I’m not sold on him being great) and with a decent year from your D, you have a shot. Decent QB play also helps your D not be exhausted with three and outs every play.

  8. .
    “With 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo getting $27.5 million per year based on seven largely meaningless career regular-season starts”
    _______

    Factually correct, although Jimmy G’s opening game win at Arizona replacing Brady, and the Patriots home opener versus the Dolphins the following week were high pressure / high stakes.
    .

  9. I get the feeling this is just a little bit related to Cousins, and it’s a pretty smart move.

    At the very least, given all the “Cousins to Denver” chatter (Von Miller, anyone?), this signals Cousins that while we may be interested, we don’t have tunnel vision, we’ve got options, we’re going to explore them, and we’re not going to break the bank on you if those other options are viable and economical.

    Having said that, Cousins is certainly a more proven commodity than MacCarron. I’m not sold on Cousins – and I’m a Skins fan (pity me) – but I do wonder what he could do in an organization that isn’t as dysfunctional as the Redskins.

  10. First, I live in New England and don’t remember McCarron’s name being mentioned much before that draft. Garopollo was a surprise pick. This works for Denver if he’s an UFA, but I think it’s an extreme longshot for McCarron to win this grievance. He just didn’t accrue the needed time. He’ll be hit with a 1rst rnd tender by Cincy. If someone wants him this yr, they’ll have to give up a 1rst pick(Denver #5) AND pay him. Don’t see that.

  11. This Bronco fan thinks all these dudes are too expensive. Elway can get a new QB in every draft- Oaweiller, Seimian, Lynch, Kelly and sooner or later land a decent player, without breaking the bank.

    Meanwhile he needs an O-line more than he needs a QB. They are the ones who damn near killed all 3 QB’s on last year’s roster.

    We’ve all seen medicare QB’s do well with good lines, but it’s rare to see any QB carry a weak O-line. I say stick with Lynch, Semian and Kelly and put the resources into a real line.

  12. Were the 7 starts by Aaron Rodgers “largely meaningless” as well when the Packers made him the 4th highest paid QB?

  13. In the Broncos case, they are paying for those Super Bowl runs and horrible drafting. The key to sustaining success moving forward is draft and developing, which that organization has failed to adequately do. They blew chunks on developing a QB to replace Manning, instead opting to hoist blind faith into the wind that Brock would be a successful heir apparent. Sadly, he wasn’t loyal and not that good to begin with. Then they reached badly on Lynch. Meanwhile, they overpaid on defense for said championship run and the players on that side of the ball are getting older and more expensive.

    They have no real cost controlled personnel that are capable of at least maintaining some semblance of a high level of play and indeed, are in a salary cap bind so much that they may have to move on from Sanders and/or Thomas and on defense, Talon or more. In another season or so, Miller will be next. The question now is, with current situation that team is in, is Elway the right individual that can navigate the team through a competitive transition or is he going to gut the team for a free agent QB looking to take advantage of a seller’s market? QB should have been solved two years ago. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention Trevor on purpose.

  14. So the Broncos are sold on him after a game he played against them and lost almost 3 years ago? Ok, I guess I have a different view on what makes a QB successful.

    Plus, haha on the “no fly zone” defense – they gave up an unprecedented amount of frequent flyer miles this past year and 2018 isn’t looking any better.

  15. Paying Jimmy G that much already was insane…not saying he isnt good or wont BE great…but come on. hes won a handful of games vs teams who had no tape on him yet. He seems like a good guy and i hope jimmy g succeeds in a league that needs new young QB talent, but what an insane move to pay someone that much already.

  16. Ultimately, a bone headed play & non – play from Cinci’s defense and a lost fumble by Jeremy Hill lost that game against the Steelers. AJ was not that impressive in that game, or really any game he’s played in.

  17. mammothfan says:
    February 14, 2018 at 10:21 am
    I don’t think a 7th round pick can be a bust.

    I agree -it’s hard to be a bust when you go in the 7th (or the 5th where I think he was taken), but I also disagree with the poster who said “Browns lost”. I am HOPING the Broncos go for him and not Hue Jackson, because I just don’t see the long term potential in this guy. PFT is always crowing about “2015”. He started 3 games. Decent stats but zero tape, zero game planning. Just because someone is in the NFL doesn’t mean they are going to “wreck the league.”

  18. The Bengals are just wasting McCarron’s prime years. I believe he can be a starter in this league.

    #FreeAJ

  19. As a Vikings fan I actually kind of hope the purple get this guy. I liked what he did in college, and I actually wanted them to draft him in the 2nd, 3rd that year instead of reaching for Bridgewater. I don’t want to overpay for Cousin’s. The Vikings made it to the NFC title with Case Keenum because the roster overall is stellar. Keep improving the offensive line, and defensive line and get someone with upside at a team friendly price like McCarron.

  20. “It was the defense that blew it for the Bengals, not McCarron.”

    Uh…considering the defense allowed only 18 points to a great offense, and McCarron (68.3 rating, 2 turnovers) only led the offense to 15 points, I find it odd that you’d blame the defense. It wasn’t the fault of the defense that McCarron fumbled 3 times, averaged 5.2 yards per attempt and was shut out in the first half. The defense didn’t make Jeremy Hill fumble when the offense was finally able to score 16 points to take the lead.

    McCarron deserves very little credit for that “almost” win. He did nothing and looked horrible for 3 quarters, then the defense put him at mid-field a couple times with turnovers, and the run game helped McCarron cash in. McCarron himself was horrible.

  21. The game was won and in the bag when Burfict and Jones took personal fouls and handed the game to the Steelers.

    You can try to spin it all you want, but it doesn’t change the truth.

  22. He certainly can be an upgrade for many teams. The Broncos would be stupid to not be interested because even if he’s a restricted free agent they’d only have to give up a fifth-round pick for him. Tell me you could find a better player in the fifth round?

    We all know the Bengals are cheap so they will only offer him the tender, which will be ~$1M. McCarron is looking at a big pay increase likely with a team that is more concerned with winning than the Bengals (which include just about every team). It’s a win-win for McCarron.

  23. Denver’s best bet is to draft a guy and hope it goes better than last time when they reached for Lynch. I’m not a GM, but I saw Lynch not working out and that most of these passers in this draft are head and shoulders better. McCarron isn’t that good, and Cousins isn’t leading anyone anywhere. His next game he wins against a good team will be his first.

    Now, all of that isn’t his fault because the Washington defense gave up a few leads like against the Saints this past year, but he had plenty of moments with games on the line where he flat out shrunk in between garbage stat collecting on a Blake Bortles type level from a couple of years ago, and I think if you’re going to pay a guy $25 mil a year, that’s kind of why you’re paying him that is to overcome those holes you have to put in your team to accommodate his salary.

  24. I would not call those 2 wins Jimmy G. had in 2016, which helped the Patriots stay in contention for the playoffs while Uncle Tom was being suspended, “meaningless.” It is true that those 5 wins he had last season were meaningless as far as the playoffs were concerned, but they were nevertheless impressive wins, considering 3 of the teams he beat went on to play in the postseason, and one of those teams nearly went to the Super Bowl. The win against the Lambs was a rout. They were meaningful to the 49ers because they will have an easier time signing quality free agents in the coming off season. There is a huge difference between a 1-15 team and a 6-10 team.

    Compare those wins to Joe Flacco, who did not beat a single playoff team in 2017, and it becomes even more impressive. Flacco is getting $22 million per season for the next 3 seasons. Therefore Jimmy G. is not overpaid at all.

  25. It’s fun watching horseface trying to pretend he’s a front office genius stumbling all over the place. Every trophy the Donks have won is because they cheated the salary cap in some way and there’s nothing different with Elway in charge. Hope the fans in Denver enjoy the view in last place in the AFC WEST for the next 10 years, you guys deserve it.

  26. The game was only “won and in the bag” thanks to the defense allowing only 15 points (at the time) and forcing 2 turnovers that helped the Bengals putrid offense get in position to finally score. You can try to spin it all you want, but it doesn’t change the truth. McCarron’s stat line backs me up. He was awful.

  27. He also lost that game against Denver in OT by fumbling the ball. Had the Bengals won that game as we should have we were primed for a 1st round by.

  28. There are so many NFL reporters now that it seems these “hot takes” don’t really need to be off the wall; they just need to be different than everyone else.

    I’m not saying it won’t happen, but Lombardi’s argument is based on one game and loose logic.

  29. grumpysal says:

    February 14, 2018 at 10:49 am
    So the Broncos are sold on him after a game he played against them and lost almost 3 years ago? Ok, I guess I have a different view on what makes a QB successful.

    Plus, haha on the “no fly zone” defense – they gave up an unprecedented amount of frequent flyer miles this past year and 2018 isn’t looking any better.

    ____________________________________

    The Broncos “No Fly Zone” gave up the 4th fewest amount of yards last year. What are you talking about?

  30. It was the defense that blew it for the Bengals, not McCarron.

    —-

    Sorry, but the defense, had the game won for Cincy. Intercepted the ball at the Steelers 30 yard line. All Jeremy Hill had to do was fall down without fumbling, but that was too much to ask. Put a great offense back on the field, and give the officials a chance to help Pittsburgh, and the rest is history. Oh yeah, also with all the griping about the catch/ no catch rule, go back and look at the TD they GAVE Martavis Bryant in that game. Ridiculous.

  31. nelly837 says:
    February 14, 2018 at 12:01 pm
    It’s fun watching horseface trying to pretend he’s a front office genius stumbling all over the place. Every trophy the Donks have won is because they cheated the salary cap in some way and there’s nothing different with Elway in charge. Hope the fans in Denver enjoy the view in last place in the AFC WEST for the next 10 years, you guys deserve it.

    1 1 Rate This

    ——————————

    Amazing, isn’t it? They also used a cheating QB who was caught using undetectable Chinese PEDs that Goodell helped cover up.

    Disgusting.

    Elway is in for a very rude awakening.

    Any QB that he goes after that’s not via the draft, will have 25 mil per worth of leverage on him.

    I absolutely question how legit his Economics degree is from Stanford. He actually thinks there is no salary cap and/or having such a top heavy roster is not an issue.

    They’re very lucky Gomer fell into their laps, basically. Everything else has been overpyaments to free agents, who felt entitled, with their hands out, ruining their cap.

    Look at Von Miller, Talib, Sanders and Demarius Thomas’;s contracts, Forget what anyone’s opinion is of those players. Look at those deals. They’re poorly done.

    Maybe Elway can ask Von Miller to restructure like he did with Dumervil, and Von Miller can then bamboozle Horseteeth, forcing his release with another fax excuse. That was comical.

    I love how Denver fans are so clueless because all they see is Elway’s mug on their tv screen.

    He was very mediocre, if at times awful in his SB play, and his GM work is no different.

  32. So Jimmy G’s 7 “meaningless” WINS, 5 with a horrible Niners team. Aren’t worth the money but we can judge AJ on a loss with a playoff caliber Bengals team? Right. Gotcha.

  33. For everyone that keeps thinking McCarron will be a lights-out starter, keep in mind the Bengals have seen him for the last 4 years and were completely comfortable trading him to a divisional rival. That, combined with Elway’s interest (and based on his past track record of picking QBs) I wouldn’t assume he’ll be pro-bowl bound any time soon

  34. patsfan4lifesbchamps says:
    February 14, 2018 at 11:02 am
    The Bengals are just wasting McCarron’s prime years. I believe he can be a starter in this league.

    ———-

    He is certainly anything better than your Jets have seen since probably Joe Nameth

  35. Much jealousy here?? Denver record from 2012 – 2015 were great along with 2 SB appearances. Can he draft a good QB? Nope. But we are not taking McCarron. Trade a few vets, cut a few vets and we have a ton of money. So go after Foles or Keenum along with Mayfield and we are fine. Maybe a Fitzpatrick as a 3rd string. Draft some o line help and done.

  36. stillabengalsfan says:
    February 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm
    It was the defense that blew it for the Bengals, not McCarron.

    —-

    Sorry, but the defense, had the game won for Cincy. Intercepted the ball at the Steelers 30 yard line. All Jeremy Hill had to do was fall down without fumbling, but that was too much to ask. Put a great offense back on the field, and give the officials a chance to help Pittsburgh, and the rest is history. Oh yeah, also with all the griping about the catch/ no catch rule, go back and look at the TD they GAVE Martavis Bryant in that game. Ridiculous.

    ———–
    The game was in hand until the two boneheads (Burfict and Pac Man) drew 30 yards in personal fouls

  37. tylawspick6 says:
    February 14, 2018 at 9:52 am
    LOL! Horseteeth getting desperate, admitting both Simien and Lynch as busts!

    —————————————————————————–
    This comment is just stupid, how can you call a 7th round draft pick a bust? Lynch sure as a first, but Siemian was a 7th round pick, in fact 250th out of what 256 picks?

  38. Denver is one of the few options I think Cousins would excel at considering the WRs and the run game being league average with poor QB play. So hopefully they don’t cheap out because McCarron is a far inferior option to Cousins in terms of game experience and production.

  39. arclight1972 says:

    February 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I just took a look at AJs stats in the NFL.
    Looks like a solid backup to me.
    I’d sign him at the Vets minimum and let him compete with whatever they can scrape up (Siemien, Paxton Lynch?)

    —————————————————————————-

    Live in the real world, why would he sign for the vets minimum as a backup in Denver when he is trying to get his walking papers to become a starter and cash out? Free agent qb’s don’t come off their rookie contracts and re-sign for the vet minimum to be a backup. Trust me, McCarron is head and shoulders better than Osweiler and Semen. I can definitely see a team like Arizona taking a flier on him since Cousins sole purpose is to cash in. McCarron just wants to have the opportunity to start and win. Giving him a deal a little north of what Glennon got with incentives could be a possibility to get him signed. Then again, Garrappolo getting 135 million for 7 starts who knows what can happen.

  40. whenwilliteverend says:

    February 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

    He certainly can be an upgrade for many teams. The Broncos would be stupid to not be interested because even if he’s a restricted free agent they’d only have to give up a fifth-round pick for him. Tell me you could find a better player in the fifth round?

    We all know the Bengals are cheap so they will only offer him the tender, which will be ~$1M. McCarron is looking at a big pay increase likely with a team that is more concerned with winning than the Bengals (which include just about every team). It’s a win-win for McCarron.
    —————————————————————————

    Incorrect, that is not how restricted free agency works. Yes he was a 5th round pick but that means nothing because the bengals get to dictate what slot they want to designate him at in terms of compensation. I think the right slot would be what they were asking for last season at the deadline a 2nd rounder. Now it is possible Brown could swing for the fences realizing there might be a market for AJ and ask for a 1st but parting with a premium pick and coming up with the scratch to sign him is a lot to ask for a career backup with a small sample size of starting.

  41. joetoronto says: The game was won and in the bag when Burfict and Jones took personal fouls and handed the game to the Steelers.
    You can try to spin it all you want, but it doesn’t change the truth……
    ==============================================================================
    What do you know about ‘the truth’ ? Just because you say its the truth doesn’t mean it is…….

    IIRC Bengals were leading 16-15 when Hill fumbled the ball. Following Burficts interception; all genius Lewis needed to do was run it 3-times with Hill for a 38ish yard FG attempt for a 19-15 lead. I think at this point both Gio Bernard and Roethlisburger were out of the game.

    PIT would have needed a TD to win inside the final 2-mins. Perfectly possible of course, but unlikely given how well the Bengals D was playing thru the first 58 minutes.

    Still; if it makes him feel better, lets all believe ‘joetoronto’s version of events……

  42. As a Denver fan I find it interesting that people want to pick on John Elway with childish name calling, they have several options for a QB this coming year including the draft, Siemian, a 7th rounder has some skills. I put some of the blame for Lynch on HC Joseph who I don’t think is ready or able. Kubiak is back with an expanded role as far as scouting and evaluation, so I’m hopeful for the upcoming season. Forever a Hatriot!

  43. The comments on the Pittsburg Cincinnati playoff game are goofy. Cincy was in that game because of the defensive play of Adam Jones and Vonteze Burfict. AJ played OK but not great. Hill’s fumble with a minute thirty left lost the game. AJ is good but will not be a long term starter anywhere..

  44. The most surprising thing in this article was the photo. I always thought Dalton was taller than McCarron, based mostly on how they run.

    Dalton labors like a basketball center/power forward when he runs, while McCarron has more “pep in his step” and runs like a point guard.

    None of that would make my decision on whether to keep or trade either player. Just noting the latest example of my eyes being fooled…

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