AJ McCarron got what he wanted, learning he will become a free agent March 14 when his lawyer uttered the two words he hoped to hear: You won. An independent arbitrator ruled in the quarterback’s favor in his grievance against the Bengals regarding their decision to place him on the non-football injury (NFI) list at the start of 2014.
“It’s just a blessing,” McCarron said, via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I was going to be blessed either way because you’re still in the league; you’re still being able to play the game for a living. But it’s just awesome just to be free now and to hopefully get that opportunity and be able to compete somewhere. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’m just super excited. Just really excited that I get that opportunity now, and I just can’t wait to just showcase what I can do and show a team that I can lead a team and win ball games.”
The Bengals could apply a transition or franchise tag, but that seems unlikely. It’s more likely he becomes one of the more coveted quarterbacks on the free agent market, able to pick where he wants to go and have a chance to start.
“We’re going to be open to everything,” McCarron said. “I’m not the one — the people that know me and truly know me, and my family knows — it’s not about the money for me. I just love playing football. Making the money is great, but I just want to play. That’s what I grew up on. That’s what you’re raised on. Like here in the South, you’re raised to love football. It’s not about money. I just want to play. Whoever gives me an opportunity. I’m not going to chase the huge contract and be put in a situation that I might not be 100 percent comfortable with just because it’s a lot more money or whatever. I want to go somewhere where I can win and help the team win and we have a bright future together. I’m just super excited for this next chapter.”