A ruling on the question of whether Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron will be a restricted or unrestricted free agent was expected by today. That may not be happening.
The decision may be delayed beyond today due to personal reasons of the arbitrator, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com.
Although it’s important for everyone involved to know whether the Bengals can use one of the various restricted free agency tenders to keep him in place for one more year or whether he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, it’s not critical that the situation be resolved today or this week. But the time for knowing his status conclusively is definitely coming soon.
If he’s unrestricted, McCarron can sign anywhere he wants. If he’s restricted, the Bengals will have to decide the specific tender level as part of a broader strategy for his immediate future.
Some may say that the Bengals should consider keeping McCarron and moving on from Andy Dalton, who has a base salary of $13.7 million and a cap charge (if traded or cut) of $2.4 million. But the Bengals nearly traded McCarron to the Browns at the deadline (the Browns bungled the deal); if the Bengals were thinking about choosing McCarron over Dalton, they wouldn’t have nearly shipped him to a division rival.
So McCarron likely is still the odd man out. The only question is whether he walks away without immediate compensation or whether the Bengals will be able to try to trade him all over again.