Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has repeatedly stated how important backup quarterback A.J. McCarron is to the Bengals. Still, that hasn’t stop the rumors of a possible trade from spreading once again this spring.
Members of the media asked Lewis at the 15th AFC Coaches Media Breakfast about whether the Bengals have explored the possibility of trading McCarron to in-state and division rival, the Cleveland Browns, for the No. 12 overall pick. Lewis simply responded initially with, “How about No. 1?”
After the joke, he once again explained how important the former Alabama quarterback is to his team.
“AJ McCarron is a valuable member of our football team,” Lewis said. “No one has asked to trade him. We’re not going to go out and seek a trade for AJ McCarron. He’s a valuable member of the team. We’ve said that how many times?”
The asking price for Patriots’ backup Jimmy Garoppolo was high when the Browns explored that possibility a couple months ago, and apparently, the same is true for McCarron. Neither team is in a position where they have to trade its backup, so Cleveland remains the more desperate team to get a deal done. Desperate teams do not win trades.
The other factor at play here is players are rarely traded inside their own division. The only famous trade between division rivals that really comes to mind is Donovan McNabb when the Philadelphia Eagles dealt him to the Washington Redskins before the 2010 season.
McCarron’s fit in Cleveland, though, is obvious. The former Crimson Tide signal caller spent the first two years of his career in coach Hue Jackson’s offense. Now the coach of the Browns, Jackson served as Bengals offensive coordinator from 2014-15.
McCarron played in just one game last season and didn’t throw a pass. In 2015, he made his NFL debut, going 2-1 with a 66.4 completion percentage, six touchdowns, two interceptions and a 7.2 yards per attempt average. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Division Round, McCarron led the Bengals back from a 15-0 deficit only to lose, after two consecutive penalties on defense in the final minute, 18-16.