The ruling from arbitrator Shyam Das that Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron represents the end of the road when it comes to McCarron’s effort to become an unrestricted free agent. As to the Bengals, it could be the beginning of a separate set of problems.
PFT has obtained a copy of the seven-page ruling in the case, which grants McCarron his freedom based on a finding that the Bengals improperly placed McCarron on the non-football injury list at the outset of the 2014 season.
The decision to keep McCarron on the NFI list to start the 2014 season came from Dr. Marc Galloway, who ultimately admitted that he kept McCarron on the NFI list not because Dr. Galloway believed McCarron couldn’t play football as of September 2014, but because Dr. Galloway “did not think it was in [McCarron’s] best long-term interest to play football in September.” Dr. Galloway admitted that, if McCarron had said he wants to play in September 2014, Galloway would have allowed him to play.
The arbitrator ultimately concluded that McCarron did not receive a medical examination before being placed on the NFI list, and that the evidence does not firmly establish that McCarron would have failed the exam. Indeed, by Dr. Galloway’s admission, McCarron would have passed it.
To put it simply and candidly, the Bengals stashed McCarron, a fifth-round rookie, behind starter Andy Dalton and veteran backup Jason Campbell. The next question becomes whether the Bengals will face any scrutiny for improperly utilizing the NFI list.
The broader question is whether and to what extent other teams are doing the same thing. The simple answers likely are “yes” and “plenty.”