A.J. McCarron

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/14/24

Today’s only minor move:

Cincinnati Bengals

McCarron’s release today is the result of a request that the team has decided to honor. McCarron returned to Cincinnati this season for the first time since his rookie contract expired in 2017. With starter Joe Burrow dealing with his injury early on in the season, the veteran backup was added as extra insurance on the practice squad. According to Howard Balzer of PHNX, McCarron requested his release in order to sign with the St. Louis Battlehawks of the UFL. McCarron had a successful season starting for the Battlehawks when the team was a part of the XFL. With the fusion of the XFL and USFL, McCarron and the Battlehawks will be playing in the XFL Conference of the UFL.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/23

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

  • Designated to return from IR: LB Malik Hamm

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from Panthers): DB David Long

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Promoted: TE Josh Pederson

New York Giants

While the Giants haven’t activated Tyrod Taylor, the veteran QB is expected to be back on the active roster next Monday. In preparation, the team has moved on from Matt Barkley, who has been serving as the backup to Tommy DeVito since Daniel Jones went down with an injury. Barkley hasn’t seen the field for a regular season game since 2020, when he got into five games with the Bills.

Bengals’ Joe Burrow Placed On IR

NOVEMBER 25: The Bengals announced today that they have officially placed Burrow on injured reserve. In addition to placing their newest franchise quarterback on IR, the team filled his roster spot by activating fifth-round rookie running back Chase Brown off of IR. Brown made an appearance in five games before being placed on IR with a hamstring injury. He played extremely sparingly on offense, only tallying two carries and three receptions, but was a consistent presence on special teams.

The team also announced practice squad quarterback A.J. McCarron as Cincinnati’s only standard gameday elevation for tomorrow. With Burrow out, McCarron will be available to serve as Browning’s backup.

NOVEMBER 17: The carnage from Thursday night’s game will hit the Bengals as well. Following the news of Mark Andrews likely being done for the season, Zac Taylor announced Friday that Joe Burrow has suffered a torn thumb ligament.

Burrow will miss the rest of the season with the wrist injury, Taylor revealed Friday. This is a devastating blow for the Bengals, who have seen Burrow change their trajectory over the past four seasons. Burrow entered Thursday having not missed a game due to injury since his rookie-year ACL tear.

After playing through calf trouble early this season, Burrow had recovered. The Bengals’ fortunes reversed. The team won four straight, including victories over the 49ers and Bills, and had moved into a showdown with the Ravens. But Burrow arrived in Baltimore sporting a brace on his right wrist. The Bengals did not list their star quarterback on the Week 11 injury report, creating speculation the AFC North team was attempting to conceal a malady. As a result, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicates the NFL is investigating the Bengals.

While putting two and two together points to Burrow having an issue coming into Thursday night’s matchup, Taylor adds (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo) the injury the fourth-year standout sustained is “completely unrelated” to the wrap he wore earlier in the day. When speaking publicly on the matter, Burrow confirmed as much (via ESPN’s Ben Baby). While attention around the league will turn to the league’s probe into the Bengals, Cincinnati will be forced to make a late run at the postseason with a major question mark under center.

Jake Browning, who took over for Burrow to close out last night’s contest, will assume starting duties for the rest of the season. The former UDFA had attempted one regular season pass in the NFL prior to Week 11, but he did enough in training camp and the preseason to earn a low-cost No. 2 job. Risk was incurred on the Bengals’ part by entrusting a relative unknown to serve as Burrow’s fill-in option, but Browning will now be tasked with leading the team toward a wild-card spot.

The Bengals entered Thursday’s loss ranked last in the league in rushing yards per game, so transitioning to a ground-heavy attack led by Joe Mixon may not offer a viable strategy. The team’s defense has delivered consecutive poor performances as well, so that unit will be hard-pressed to handle, in all likelihood, a larger workload with respect to having a role in victories down the stretch. Cincinnati sits at 5-5 on the year with an 0-3 record against the AFC North. A strong showing in the coming weeks will be needed for the team to remain in the hunt for what would now be considered an underdog postseason run.

Prior to the start of the 2023 season, Burrow inked a five-year, $275MM extension. That deal made him the latest in a line of young passers to land market-altering deals, and ensured his long-term future in Cincinnati. The 26-year-old will remain the foundation of the Bengals’ franchise for years to come, but today’s news will add another season-ending injury to his NFL career.

Adam La Rose contributed to this post.

Bengals Add QB A.J. McCarron To Practice Squad

The Bengals are adding more quarterback insurance with Joe Burrow uncertain to play on Monday night. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Bengals are signing veteran QB A.J. McCarron to their practice squad. Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer reported earlier today that McCarron was working out for the Bengals.

This is a homecoming for McCarron, who was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. The quarterback ended up spending three seasons in Cincy before bouncing around the NFL in recent years. McCarron’s longest recent gig came with the Texans, where he spent a pair of seasons. The Alabama product has also had stints with the Bills, Raiders, and Falcons. In total, McCarron has seen time in 17 career games (four starts), throwing for 1,173 passing yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. He’s also started one playoff game, going winless in 2015.

Most recently, McCarron spent time with the St. Louis BattleHawks of the XFL, leading the league in passing touchdowns, passer rating, and completion percentage. Following his standout campaign, the 33-year-old indicated that he’d be open to another NFL opportunity.

He’ll find that in Cincinnati, where Burrow will be listed as questionable on Monday night while dealing with a calf injury (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter). Will Grier was snagged by the Patriots off the Bengals’ practice squad earlier this week, leaving the team with Jake Browning as the lone QB behind Burrow. The Bengals added Reid Sinnett to the grouping yesterday, and with McCarron on board, the organization can now choose from one of three QBs as a backup plan to Burrow.

Vic Beasley, Martavis Bryant, Josh Gordon, Marquette King On XFL Rosters

The XFL will begin its third try next week. The rebooting league’s latest season will begin Feb. 18, nearly two months before USFL 2.0’s second season is scheduled to start.

This setup will make for a strange winter-spring period in which two minor leagues of sorts will be in operation. Considering the short tenures of XFL 2.0 (2020) and the Alliance of American Football (2019), this will be one of the more interesting years for non-NFL football.

Numerous former NFLers line the XFL’s season-opening rosters. Here are some of the players who will be part the league’s latest eight-team configuration. The full rosters can be found here.

Arlington Renegades

King has not punted since the 2018 season, when the Broncos waived him not long after signing the veteran specialist to a multiyear deal. King, 34, punted for the Raiders for five seasons.

D.C. Defenders

Armstead received workout opportunities and landed with multiple teams, but the former Jaguars backup has been unable to regain his footing since missing all of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 complications. A former Packers second-round pick, Murphy has six NFL seasons under his belt. Reid, 31, played eight NFL seasons — most recently suiting up in 2021 — and was a regular for the Lions early in his career. Brice started 10 games for the Packers in 2018; he has not played since.

Houston Roughnecks

Davis started 42 games for the Steelers from 2017-19; he played with three teams during the 2021 season. A

Orlando Guardians

Elam logged 26 starts for the Ravens, but his NFL run stopped after the 2016 season. A former Broncos second-round pick, Latimer played six NFL seasons and ended up a 10-game starter for the Giants in 2019. Lynch was part of the 2016 and ’17 Broncos squads along with Latimer but, despite his first-round status, flamed out of the league after two seasons. He has since spent time in the CFL and USFL.

San Antonio Brahmas

Ballage did not play in the NFL this season but saw action in 17 games for the Steelers in 2021. Wing served as the Giants’ punter for three seasons. Sinnett was with the Dolphins this season, joining the team following Tua Tagovailoa‘s Week 4 concussion.

Seattle Sea Dragons

The biggest name in this XFL edition, Gordon became a journeyman in recent years. He was most recently with the Titans, catching on with Tennessee this year before being released in October. The former All-Pro spent the 2021 season with the Chiefs. Suspensions hijacked the 31-year-old pass catcher’s career. The Cowboys cut DiNucci just before this season, and while workout opportunities came, the former emergency Dallas starter will try his hand in the XFL.

St. Louis BattleHawks

Although McCarron’s most recent action came with the Texans, he was on the 2021 Falcons. A path toward being Matt Ryan‘s final backup in Atlanta closed after a preseason ACL tear. Workouts in 2022 did not lead to a signing.

Vegas Vipers

A former top-10 pick and NFL sack leader, Beasley has been out of the league since the 2020 season. The ex-Super Bowl starter’s one-year, $9.5MM deal did not work out for the Titans, who cut the edge rusher during the ’20 campaign. Bryant has been out of the league longer, with suspensions altering his path. The talented ex-Steeler spent time in Canada recently. Hundley was on the Ravens’ practice squad until season’s end this year, signing with the team after Lamar Jackson‘s ankle injury.

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.