Although his stats aren’t really indicative of it, Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron may have done enough to be seen as capable of becoming one of the league’s 32 starting quarterbacks.
In his three starts in 2015, McCarron went 2-1, completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 854 yards and 6 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. Those numbers are a microcosm of his four years at Alabama, where for his career he completed 66.9 percent of his passes with a very similar touchdown to interception ratio.
While his stats smack of the game manager moniker, that’s pretty much what he is, and always has been. And that’s not such a bad thing. It won him three national championships with the Tide and, considering the NFL’s lack of capable signal callers, should be more than enough to get him a starting job in the pros.
All that said, it might be a good idea for the Bengals to see what kind of value their second-year player could command this offseason. The teams that immediately come to mind as possibly being the right fit for McCarron are the Bills, Browns, and 49ers.
Although the Bills seems to have a somewhat stable situation at the position with Tyrod Taylor, he hasn’t yet proven that he’s the right guy. He had a decent season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, but the Bills finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year with him as the starter.
Then there’s the mater of his $17 million annual salary. A much higher sum than Buffalo would have to pay McCarron. It’s probably safe to say that the organization will be looking at options other than Taylor in the near future, and McCarron would be a good one.
Cleveland is another obvious possibility. Their situation at quarterback, with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, is anything but good. Outside of drafting another quarterback from a class that doesn’t have very many good ones to speak of, the Browns are kind of stuck. So picking up a solid veteran will be a must for Hue Jackson this offseason.
Add to that, the fact that Jackson and McCarron were together in Cincinnati from 2014-15, and it seems even more plausible that Jackson would at least explore the possibility.
The 49ers are in desperate need of a quarterback, as you can expect both Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert to be jettisoned at some point this offseason. It’s hard to say how good a fit it would be, though, without knowing what their coaching situation is. Former Bengals assistant Vance Joseph is a possibility, which would be good for McCarron, with the two obviously knowing each other.
But what’s absolutely certain is San Francisco is probably in need of a quarterback more than any other franchise in the league. So from that standpoint, the 49ers would be a god landing spot for McCarron.