A.J. McCarron

A.J. McCarron, Mike Glennon Among QBs At 49ers Workout; Kurt Benkert Lands Deal

4:51pm: It will be Benkert landing the gig after this audition, Garafolo tweets. it is a practice squad deal. The former Falcons and Packers reserve has been in the NFL since 2018, after arriving as a UDFA out of Virginia. Benkert, 27, has appeared in just one game — with the 2021 Packers — and does not have a regular-season pass on his resume yet. Benkert played under Kyle Shanahan Falcons OC successor Steve Sarkisian and spent a year in Matt LaFleur‘s West Coast offense.

3:59pm: Trey Lance‘s injury reopens the door for Jimmy Garoppolo, but it also leaves the 49ers vulnerable. Garoppolo has battled a host of injuries since coming to San Francisco, and the team is looking into reserve options.

Chief among them is A.J. McCarron, who was one of five quarterbacks at a Tuesday 49ers workout, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. Mike Glennon, Garrett Gilbert, Kevin Hogan and Kurt Benkert also trekked to the Bay Area for this audition. This year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, is the only other QB on San Francisco’s 53-man roster.

The Falcons did not re-sign McCarron, whose 2021 deal did not lead to any game action. A summer 2021 ACL tear sidelined the former Bengals backup, but the veteran arm expressed interest in returning to the league this year. The Browns worked out McCarron in July but went with Josh Rosen instead.

Now 32, McCarron has been with four teams — Raiders and Texans stints came in between his Cincinnati and Atlanta stays — over an eight-year career. His only notable game action came back in 2015, when Andy Dalton‘s late-season injury sent the Alabama alum into action. McCarron had the Bengals on the precipice of a wild-card win over the Steelers; late-game penalties helped down Cincinnati that night. Since that four-start season, McCarron has made just one additional start — with the 2019 Texans — but has continued to generate interest.

Glennon, 32, spent last season with the Giants but has bounced around the league since his Buccaneers stay ended in 2016. Glennon struggled during his Daniel Jones relief cameos, going 0-4 as a starter and completing 54% of his passes at 4.7 yards per throw. The former Bucs third-round pick also lost his five 2020 starts, helping the Jaguars secure Trevor Lawrence draft real estate. The 6-foot-7 veteran has been with five teams — the Bears, Cardinals, Raiders, Jags and Giants — since his rookie contract expired.

Garoppolo only resumed throwing recently, but he came in to relieve Lance in Week 2. Lance’s season-ending ankle break puts Garoppolo’s health history back under the microscope. The sixth-year 49er missed 13 starts in 2018, 10 in 2020 and two last season. Calf, thumb and shoulder injuries impacted Garoppolo last year, leading to two 2022 surgeries. Lance no longer being present as a backup option, as was the case in 2021, raises the stakes involved with this 49ers search for a veteran arm.

Browns Work Out QBs Josh Rosen, A.J. McCarron

With a suspension looming for Deshaun Watson, the Browns remain on the lookout for a short-term QB addition. Two new candidates the team is looking at have emerged. 

Cleveland is holding workouts with Josh Rosen and A.J. McCarronper ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). He adds that the Browns are eyeing a training camp roster including four signal-callers: Watson, presumed Week 1 starter Jacoby Brissettfree agent signing Josh Dobbs, and another passer capable of acting as insurance during Watson’s absence.

Rosen and McCarron were connected last offseason as well, though under different circumstances. It was the latter’s preseason ACL tear that left the Falcons in need of a late addition at QB. Rosen was made available when he was waived by the 49ers at the start of their training camp, and signed in August. The move increased the number of teams the 2018 first-rounder had joined to four since his one-year stint with the Cardinals during his rookie season.

Rosen dressed for four games last season, attempting just 11 passes. Since his inaugural campaign, the former top-10 pick has suited up for 10 total contests. McCarron, whom the Browns nearly traded for in 2017, is now three years removed from his last start, which came with the Texans. Neither QB would therefore be seen as a threat to Brissett’s status as the team’s top option for however long Watson is sidelined.

Given their cap situation, Cleveland has been named as a potential suitor for Jimmy Garoppolo in the event of Watson being banned for the entire 2022 campaign. The 49ers veteran was officially given permission to seek a trade yesterday, and would represent the most accomplished passer sill available this late in the offseason. However, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports that the team is “not expected” to pursue a trade for the 30-year-old, nor have the Browns shown interest in free agent Cam Newton.

Instead, she adds, Cleveland has “inquired about” Garrett Gilbert. The journeyman spent the 2019 season with the Browns, and is a free agent again after his brief 2022 Raiders tenure ended. He could provide competition to Rosen and McCarron as the Browns look for serviceable QB depth.

A.J. McCarron Ready For Return To NFL

Former Alabama star quarterback A.J. McCarron has created value for himself as a reliable backup quarterback in the NFL. When a job isn’t determined by consistent on-field production, it can be difficult to leverage new deals after an injury. After spending the 2021 NFL season recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the preseason, McCarron is ready to contribute again, according to Mark Inabinett of AL.com. 

The last time McCarron really carried a team through a season was back in college. As a freshman at Alabama, McCarron sat behind senior Greg McElroy before taking over as a sophomore. With McCarron at quarterback for those three years, Alabama only lost four games. Over his collegiate career, McCarron had a completion percentage of 66.9% while throwing for 77 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions.

The Bengals used a fifth-round pick to select McCarron in 2014, intending for him to serve as a back up to starter Andy Dalton. He didn’t see any time on the field during his rookie year. A combination of the team signing free agent quarterback Jason Campbell before the draft and some shoulder soreness resulted in McCarron spending most of the year on injured reserve.

After the departure of Campbell the next year, McCarron beat out Keith Wenning and Terrelle Pryor for the backup quarterback position during training camp. When Dalton suffered a broken thumb late in the season, McCarron heard his name called. McCarron started the last three games of the season for Cincinnati winning two of them, which, with the assist of an 8-0 start to the season, was enough to get the Bengals into the playoffs as the AFC North division winner. McCarron started the Wild Card game for Cincinnati against the Steelers, as well, and was minutes away from giving the Bengals their first playoff victory in 25 years if not for a late-game rally by Pittsburgh.

When Dalton recovered and returned for the next season, McCarron reverted back to his back up role. McCarron was nearly the prize of a mid-season trade with the Browns, who intended send a second- and third-round pick in the following draft in exchange for the fourth-year quarterback. Unfortunately, the Brown failed to file the paperwork before the trade deadline and the trade never went through. McCarron then filed a labor grievance against Cincinnati claiming that he had been healthy enough to be removed from the non-football injury list as a rookie and that the season should count toward his accrued season total. He won the grievance and, as a result, became an unrestricted free agent the following year.

McCarron signed with the Bills and entered a quarterback competition with Nathan Peterman and then-rookie Josh Allen. McCarron was injured during the preseason and Peterman won the competition, before promptly being benched in Week 1 in favor of Allen. With Peterman and Allen set as the starter and back up, the Bills decided to get some value out of McCarron and traded him to the Raiders for a fifth-round pick. He spent the season backing up Derek Carr before being released at the end of the year.

McCarron signed with the Texans and ended up making a start in a season finale game, after it was determined that Houston would be locked in as the 4-seed. After two years in Houston, McCarron signed last offseason with the Falcons to back up Matt Ryan. The ACL tear in the team’s second preseason game would end his season prematurely.

In an interview on NFL Network, McCarron claimed that he felt great, saying that he “got cleared at four-and-a-half months out from surgery, so (he’s) just been working on the strength and getting everything back normal.”

“You never know what your future holds, what it is in this game,” McCarron said. “So I’m just ready, waiting for a call.”

As teams begin to go into camps, arms will certainly be needed. It’s hard to imagine that an eight-year veteran with plenty of practice and camp experience will have to wait very long for that call.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/24/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. Teams had until 3pm today to cut their rosters down to 80 players.

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

  • Waived: QB Kenji Bahar

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: OT Casey Tucker

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: K Ryan Succop
  • Waived/injured: OT Chidi Okeke

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Falcons QB A.J. McCarron Suffers Torn ACL

4:29pm: The veteran quarterback has indeed suffered a torn ACL, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who adds the Falcons will be on the hunt for a new backup quarterback. The team has since announced the unfortunate results of McCarron’s MRI. McCarron has seven years’ experience as a QB2, leaving the Falcons with work to do at an unideal time. However, Ryan’s durability (three missed starts in 13 seasons) will help the franchise on this front.

9:10am: Falcons quarterback A.J. McCarron suffered a serious knee injury during last night’s preseason matchup against the Dolphins. After handing the ball off to running back Qadree Ollison in the second quarter, McCarron grabbed his right knee and tried to walk off the field, though he was initially unable to do so. He ultimately walked gingerly to the locker room, and neither McCarron nor head coach Arthur Smith were encouraged by the prognosis.

“I really feel for [McCarron],” Smith said (via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). “Any time something like that happens and it’s non-contact, it’s tough when you know what these guys put into it. I feel for A.J. We’ll obviously get the MRI to confirm but he’s heartbroken.”

Smith did not want to speculate on the specifics until after McCarron gets an MRI, but it certainly sounds as if it will be a season-ender for the former Alabama star. Which means that the Falcons, who signed McCarron to a one-year deal this offseason to serve as Matt Ryan‘s backup, could be in the market for a veteran passer.

The only other QB on the roster, undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks, took over for McCarron and completed four of his nine passes for 46 yards. He also threw an interception and took four sacks, adding three carries for 32 yards.

As one might expect, the current free agent quarterback list is uninspiring and includes the likes of Blake Bortles and Josh Rosen, though new ESPN talent Robert Griffin III could be an option. Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com also speculates that, if the Titans were to cut Logan Woodside, he might become a target for Atlanta (Twitter link). Smith, Tennessee’s former offensive coordinator, is high on Woodside’s talent, and the McCarron situation might compel the Titans to keep Woodside on their roster to avoid having him poached.

Falcons To Sign QB A.J. McCarron

The Falcons’ roster will soon include a second quarterback. A.J. McCarron will join Matt Ryan in Atlanta, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets.

McCarron spent the past two seasons backing up Deshaun Watson in Houston. The former Bengals backup has seven years’ experience in this role, with a 2015 cameo as a starter also on the ex-Alabama standout’s NFL resume.

Matt Schaub filled this post for the past four seasons but retired earlier this year. The Falcons were connected to quarterbacks at No. 4 overall, but the team went with the consensus choice — tight end Kyle Pitts — and will continue with the Ryan era. That meant finding a new backup to the 13-year starter became necessary.

This move may well take the Falcons out of the second- or third-round QB markets tonight. A 2014 fifth-rounder, McCarron started for two Alabama national championship-winning teams. He made four starts in 2015, after an Andy Dalton injury ended his promising season, and one in 2019. McCarron also spent time with the Raiders and Bills, joining the latter as a potential starter in 2018. But Buffalo cut him ahead of that season, routing him to Oakland and back onto the QB2 circuit.

Contract Details: JPP, Cousins, Weatherly

Deals are coming in quickly, so we’ve compiled some important contract details below:

QB A.J. McCarron To Re-Sign With Texans

The Texans offense will look a whole lot different next year, but at least fans will be familiar with their quarterbacks. Backup A.J. McCarron announced on Instagram that he’s re-signing with Houston (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter).

McCarron signed a one-year deal with the Texans last offseason, and he earned his first start since 2015 during Houston’s regular season finale. In that contest, the 29-year-old completed 21 of his 36 pass attempts for 225 yards and one interception. He also had a rushing touchdown to go along with four sacks.

The former fifth-rounder out of Alabama has made 15 appearances during his career. He earned three starts with the Bengals back in 2015, throwing six touchdowns vs. only two interceptions. He also started for Cincy in the playoffs that year, tossing a touchdown in the Bengals loss to the Steelers.

In Houston, he’ll continue serving as the backup to Deshaun Watson. Earlier today, the organization stole headlines when they traded star wideout DeAndre Hopkins for running back David Johnson.

Jeff Driskel Expected To Have Strong Market

Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel is expected to have a “plump” free-agent market for his services, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Birkett notes that as the NFL becomes more open to dual-threat quarterbacks, Driskel’s skill set has become more desirable to NFL teams.

The former Florida quarterback appears well-positioned to secure a backup job after vagabonding around the league since the 49ers selected him in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After failing to make the 49ers 53-man roster, the Bengals claimed him off waivers and he served as depth in Cincinnati behind Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron.

Following the 2017 season, McCarron signed with the Bills and Dalton became the primary backup behind Dalton. In 2018, Driskel began contributing in sub-packages where the team utilized his athleticism. An injury to Dalton allowed Driskel to make five starts as well. He finished the season completing 105 of 176 passes for 1003 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, with 130 rushing yards on 30 carries.

Last season, with the Lions, Driskel was the first to step in for Matthew Stafford after his injury. He made three starts before a hamstring injury of his own ended his season. He completed 62 of 105 passes for 685 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions with 151 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

Extra Points: CBA, Clowney, Julio, Butt

As expected based on the past several weeks of talks, there will be no new collective bargaining agreement before Week 1. The parties’ latest round of discussions ended this week without much movement, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes no more meetings are currently scheduled. The owners continue to push for an 18-game season, while the players want a greater revenue share than their 47% figure without adding any additional regular-season contests. But the sides have made progress on issues like increased league-minimum salaries and health and safety components, Pelissero adds. With NFL-NFLPA meetings more difficult to arrange during the season, due to players’ focuses shifting to game preparation, there is now an increased possibility we will get to 2020 without a new CBA in place. That would mean final-year-of-a-CBA rules going into place. This CBA expires after the 2020 season.

Here is the latest from around the league, as rosters continue to take shape leading up to Saturday’s cutdown:

  • It continues to look less and less likely Jadeveon Clowney will wear a Texans uniform again. A bevy of teams are interested, even if a Clowney-to-Miami proposition has hit snags on multiple fronts. Bill O’Brien, who was reported to be against a Clowney extension before this year’s franchise tag deadline, said he will reconvene with Clowney if he signs his tag tender, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Clowney has now threatened to miss regular-season time.
  • We are now less than nine days away from the Falcons‘ opener, and it could put Julio Jones to a decision. The All-Pro wideout did not skip training camp but he would soon be set to play in games on the league’s 13th-highest-AAV receiver deal. Thomas Dimitroff said (via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com) the team believes this process is “very close” to being completed. Jones’ current deal runs through the 2020 season.
  • Jake Butt has endured another setback. The Broncos tight end who has undergone three reconstructive ACL surgeries will have another knee procedure soon, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. This will be a minor surgery on Butt’s left knee, that was operated on last year. At this point, it should be considered a safe bet Butt will land on the Broncos’ IR list. The Broncos have the former All-American under contract through 2020 and could give him another medical redshirt year of sorts by placing him on IR before finalizing their roster. Butt missed most of Denver’s preseason work.
  • The Texans may have their backup quarterback back soon. A.J. McCarron has resumed throwing, per Wilson, pointing to the longtime Bengals QB2 being available in Week 1. McCarron has been dealing with a thumb injury for most of August. Houston signed McCarron to a one-year, $3MM deal to be Deshaun Watson‘s backup.