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Bengals' AJ McCarron wins grievance, will become free agent

By
The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws under pressure from the Pittsburgh Steelers defense during the first half of play in their NFL Wild Card Round game on January 9, 2016 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. File photo by John Sommers II/UPI
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws under pressure from the Pittsburgh Steelers defense during the first half of play in their NFL Wild Card Round game on January 9, 2016 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. File photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

Quarterback AJ McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, and that means he will become a free agent next month.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported earlier this week that the grievance involved one question: Did the Bengals have a proper medical basis for putting McCarron on the non-football injury list to start the 2014 season?

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The Bengals drafted McCarron in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Bengals officials believed McCarron suffered a right shoulder injury while away from the team, and they placed him on the non-football injury list on July 21, 2014, keeping him out of training camp. The team put him on that list again on Aug. 30, 2014, which meant he would miss at least the first six games of the season.

McCarron felt that was an improper designation, because he had passed his post-draft physical and had kept the Bengals informed of his medical situation.

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By winning his grievance, McCarron is awarded an accrued season for 2014. That means he has the four NFL seasons needed for unrestricted free agency. If he had lost the grievance, his rookie season would not have counted and he would have needed to play another season for the Bengals to get that fourth season required for free agency.

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McCarron has played in 11 games in his three seasons with the Bengals. That includes three starts, but he has not started and played a full game since the AFC Wild Card game on Jan. 9, 2016. He played in three games coming off the bench this past season, completing 7 of 14 passes.

The Bengals and Browns had agreed to a midseason trade that would have sent McCarron to Cleveland, but the deal fell through because the Browns reportedly failed to complete the paperwork for the deal before the league's deadline arrived.

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"I would love to have my chance," McCarron told the Enquirer at the end of this season. "That's all I want."

Several teams have shown interest in McCarron, and he will get his opportunity to sign with a new team when he becomes a free agent March 14.

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