The Browns almost landed quarterback A.J. McCarron from the Bengals before the trade deadline, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter) reports. However, the two sides could not reach agreement before 4pm ET/3pm CT on Tuesday.
The two sides actually agreed to a McCarron trade at 3:55 pm ET/2:55pm CT, a source involved tells Schefter (on Twitter). The Bengals approved the trade with the league office in time, but the Browns did not. After the fact, the Browns argued to the NFL that the trade should be allowed, a source tells Schefter (Twitter links). The league refused, even though the Browns’ notification of the deal arrived just moments too late.
The proposed deal had the Browns sending a second-round pick and a third-round pick to the Bengals for McCarron, according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The near-trade could be a sneak peak into the Browns’ offseason plans. McCarron is headed for restricted free agency in the spring, so Cleveland could theoretically make another run at him. Then again, given the way that the Bengals have valued McCarron in trade talks over the last couple of years, he could still be extremely costly.
In April, the Bengals told teams that they wanted a first-round pick for McCarron. The belief was that the Bengals were not all that interested in trading the backup QB and were simply naming an out-of-range price rather than rejecting offers outright. One unknown club did offer up a second-round choice for him. In a poll, many PFR readers speculated that it was the Browns who made that pitch. We know now that Browns coach Hue Jackson pushed hard for a reunion with McCarron.
McCarron has limited NFL experience after years of playing behind Andy Dalton, but he showed potential down the stretch in 2015 when Dalton was injured. The Browns saw him as someone who could be an upgrade over their murky QB situation, but they did not offer enough to get a deal done at the deadline. Their stockpile of picks remain untouched, but they missed out on an opportunity to spark the offense in the second half. The Browns have also made it clear to second-round pick DeShone Kizer that he is not viewed as the answer under center.
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