CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 09: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Former Alabama standout AJ McCarron the subject of reported trade talks

A decision that could bite the Bengals

For the past two years, there has been a whirlwind of rumors surrounding Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron and whether or not he would find himself suiting up for a new team sooner rather than later.

Despite all of the whispers and trade rumors, Cincinnati decided to hang onto the former Alabama quarterback because it believes McCarron is a far better option as Andy Dalton's backup than any other quarterback it could have drafted or acquired in free agency this past offseason.

But that decision could come back to bite the Bengals.

According to Albert Breer of, Cincinnati was offered a second-round draft pick by an unknown team, but the Bengals opted to decline the offer.

McCarron will make $735,413 this season and is set to become a restricted free agent in 2018. However, he has filed a motion to be credited with an accrued season for his rookie year, which would count toward the four seasons one needs to become an unrestricted free agent.

One of the teams many thought to be in the mix for McCarron is the Denver Broncos. However, John Elway, Denver's vice president of football operations, aggressively pulled the plug on the rumor the Broncos were looking to acquire a quarterback.

Some other teams that could have potentially been landing spots for McCarron include the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers.

But the Texans went out and drafted Deshaun Watson, so you can count them out.

And as far as the others are concerned, they can ride out the 2017 season with the idea they'll pluck somebody out of the stacked quarterback group in the 2018 draft class.

McCarron has thrown for 854 yards and six touchdowns in eight career games, of which he started three. But with Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Jake Browning, and Luke Falk all expected to be sitting on the draft board in April, it appears Cincinnati missed its chance to cash in on McCarron — assuming he tries to go elsewhere in free agency.