Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that there should be a ruling regarding A.J. McCarron‘s grievance against the Bengals at some point this winter, which will determine whether he is an unrestricted or restricted free agent after this season.
This is shaping up to be a big ruling for the Bengals, it’s possible that McCarron could end up departing for a market-value contract next March if it’s determined that he qualifies as an unrestricted free agent.
Otherwise, the Bengals would likely place a first-round restricted tender on McCarron, and keep him in Cincinnati for the 2018 season.
All of this stems from the Bengals’ decision to place McCarron on the non-football injury list (NFI) at the start of training camp due to a shoulder issue during his rookie year. This prevented McCarron from accruing a season and is why he would only qualify as a restricted free agent as things stand right now.
According to Schefter, McCarron contends that he was healthy enough to come off the NFI list during training camp, but Cincinnati didn’t add him to their active roster until it was too late.
Interestingly enough, Schefter says that McCarron’s situation could possible impact Andy Dalton and his future with the Bengals. Schefter writes that it’s possible the Browns, who nearly traded for McCarron last week, could shift their attention to Dalton next year, given that he also has worked with Hue Jackson.
Another option for Dalton could be the Redskins, depending on what happens with Kirk Cousins, according to Schefter.
McCarron, 27, is a former fifth-round pick of the Bengals back in 2014. He’ll be entering the final year of his four-year, $2,401,652 contract and stands to make a base salary of $690,000 for the 2017 season.
In 2015, McCarron appeared in seven games for the Bengals and completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 854 yards to go along with six touchdowns and two interceptions.