Arizona Cardinals could pursue passer granted free agency
The Arizona Cardinals may target A.J. McCarron, now that the signal-caller has been granted unrestricted free agent status
It’s the elephant in every room that the Arizona Cardinals step into. The question of who will be the club’s starting quarterback in 2018 will not go away. The sooner general manager Steve Keim is able to fill that enormous void, the better off the Cardinals will be.
Add another name to Arizona’s list of available signal-callers. Word has come down that A.J. McCarron, the Cincinnati Bengals’ backup since 2014, will be an unrestricted free agent in March. Starter Andy Dalton’s understudy won a grievance against his current squad which now grants him the freedom to sign with whomever he wants.
It should be welcome news to the Cards, who are in desperate need of a replacement for the now-retired Carson Palmer. McCarron has been biding his time in Cincinnati, waiting for the day when he’d be given the chance to be a starter. Dalton remains the Bengals’ main man, despite the fact that he’s never won a playoff game.
McCarron was part of three national championship teams at the University of Alabama. The scrappy passer was the starter for two of them, winning back to back titles under head coach Nick Saban in 2011-12. Cincinnati drafted the now-27 year old in the fifth round of the ’14 draft, the 164th pick overall.
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McCarron saw some playing time late in 2015, when a fractured thumb sidelined Dalton. The 2013 Maxwell Award winner went two and two in four regular-season starts. McCarron also got the call in that season’s AFC Wild Card game, but the Bengals fell 18-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The top free agent quarterback of 2018 is the Washington Redskins’ Kirk Cousins. The Cardinals will most likely be outbid for a player who’s in line to become the highest-paid in NFL history. McCarron is far less experienced than Cousins, which could make him a much more affordable option.
There aren’t many quarterback candidates on the table for Arizona. McCarron could very well be an excellent fit in an offense that features Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Only time will tell if the Cards’ management team agrees with that assessment.