Now that’s been declared an unrestricted free agent, Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron says he’s “open to everything,” according to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s just awesome just to be free now and to hopefully get that opportunity and be able to compete somewhere,” said McCarron. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’m just super excited.” McCarron, who won a grievance against the Bengals, will now join a free agent signal-caller class that includes Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, and Sam Bradford, among others. In what sounds like speculation, the Browns (who nearly traded for McCarron last year) and the Vikings are two team to “keep an eye on” as McCarron hits the open market, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link).
Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:
- The Steelers rank as a bottom-three NFL club in terms of 2018 cap space, and they’ll likely clear more room by releasing defensive backs Mike Mitchell and J.J. Wilcox over the coming weeks, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Pittsburgh can clear $5MM by cutting the 30-year-old Mitchell, and Dulac says it’s “become apparent” to the Steelers coaching staff that Mitchell can’t run as well as he used to. Wilcox, meanwhile, was a preseason trade acquisition who ended up playing only 14% of the Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps a year ago. If the Steelers do end up altering their defensive backfield, former second-round pick Sean Davis will likely transition from strong to free safety.
- While Mitchell and Wilcox could be forced off the Steelers‘ roster, offensive tackle Chris Hubbard is likely to leave of his own accord, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Hubbard, 26, had only started four games during the first three years of his career, but was inserted into Pittsburgh’s lineup for 10 games in 2017. During that time, Hubbard offered league-average production, grading as the No. 40 tackle among 81 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Per Fowler, Hubbard is going to “get paid elsewhere, and the Steelers know it.”
- Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman is expected to retire or be released, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Freeman, 31, inked a three-year, $12MM contract with Chicago prior to the 2016 season, but injuries and two performance-enhancing drug suspensions have limited him to just 13 games over the past two years. Without Freeman, the Bears will likely field Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkowski at inside linebacker.
- Updating a previous report, former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is indeed still running his scouting service and has not been hired full-time by the Browns, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. McCloughan is providing consulting work for multiple NFL clubs.