March 27 (UPI) -- Could the Cleveland Browns' next starting quarterback already be in the AFC North?
While the Browns still appear strongly interested in New England Patriots gunslinger Jimmy Garoppolo, rumors still swirl about its affinity for the Bengals backup.
Hobson wrote that trading McCarron within the division to a coach the franchise "greatly" regards is "rather distasteful" for Bengals owner Mike Brown. But he also wrote that Brown "appears to have a price" in mind for McCarron.
Browns coach Hue Jackson was the Bengals' offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. When he was coaching the Oakland Raiders in 2011, Jackson gave the Bengals a first and second round draft pick in exchange for quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Browns own two first round picks, two second round picks, a third round pick, two fourth round picks, three fifth rounders, and a sixth round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Bengals want a second-round draft pick, at the least, in return for the quarterback, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"We'll listen to whatever anyone is thinking,'' Bengals director of personnel Duke Tobin said, via the Plain Dealer. "We're not actively looking to diminish our football team by trading AJ McCarron and that diminishes our football team. It has to be something we feel is valuable enough to warrant doing that. What it is, I don't know. Who it is to, I don't know."
"It's not ideal to trade guys within your division, particularly at that position. But we listen and if something comes up we'll certainly announce it to all you guys.''
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported last month that trading the quarterback was part of the Bengals' "offseason itinerary."
McCarron is playing on the final year of a four-year, $2.4 million pact. He is due $690,000 this season before becoming a restricted free agent. McCarron has completed 79-of-119 passes for 854 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions in seven career appearances. The 26-year-old Alabama product started three games in 2015, posting a 2-1 record. McCarron started one game during the 2015 playoffs.
The Browns traded a fourth round pick in exchange for Brock Osweiler, a 2018 second round pick, and a 2017 sixth-round selection on March 9 from the Houston Texans. Despite reports that the Browns are already shopping the quarterback, Jackson told NFL Network Sunday that he is treating Osweiler like he will be part of the franchise when training camp rolls around.
"I think you always are [in the market for a QB]," Jackson told Steve Wyche. "I think you're always looking to improve that room because I think we all know that that's the driver of your football team. I think we'll continue to look for ways to improve the room as much as we can. But I just think, as we go through it, we'll continue to coach the guys that are there and give them the best opportunity and continue to find ways to get better."