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Bengals miss opportunity with botched McCarron trade

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CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: AJ McCarron #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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With a lot of buzz-worthy moves happening around the NFL trade deadline, the Bengals missed a chance to make a big splash.

Just after the trade deadline, news broke that the Bengals had almost made a blockbuster deal. The Bengals were reported to have a deal on the table with the Browns that would send backup quarterback AJ McCarron to Cleveland for a second and third-round draft pick. However, the deal never got completed as the paperwork was turned into the league after the deadline. When looking at this deal, it becomes apparent that the Bengals missed a huge opportunity.

What Happened?

During one of the most active trade deadline weeks in NFL history, teams were scurrying to make a move to help make a playoff push. Others were trying to stock up on draft picks to rebuild for the future. Two teams that remained surprisingly quiet were the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. While the Bengals haven’t had the start to the season they were hoping for, the easier part of their schedule is upcoming and they are still very much alive for a Wild Card spot.

The Browns are in rebuilding mode and are still looking for their quarterback of the future. Just before the deadline officially hit, the two teams struck a deal to send AJ McCarron to the Browns.

According to reports, the Bengals got their paperwork in on time but the Browns did not. Reports vary on whether or not internal disagreements or simple lack of hustle was the cause for the paperwork being late. Either way, it means the trade was unable to be completed. The Browns tried to appeal in order to get the trade through, but the league upheld the deadline.

Why The Trade Made Sense

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The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. With the modern game consisting of high-flying aerial attacks, the days of getting by with a sub-par passer under center are disappearing. For this reason, quarterbacks can go for high prices on the trade block. With teams such as the Browns, Broncos, Jaguars, and Jets all longing for a long-term quarterback solution, the Bengals are lucky enough to have two quarterbacks on their roster capable of starting. It’s clear that while Andy Dalton continues to play at a relatively high level, there is little chance of McCarron getting significant playing time.

The Bengals don’t need to have two quarterbacks of that quality on their roster. Trading the more unproven McCarron for a second and third round pick would be a big-time payoff. Especially when considering he was drafted in the fifth round. For the Browns, McCarron represented a chance to escape their present mediocrity. Yet, they still do not have their future quarterback and will continue to go with the winless tandem of DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan.

Implications

On paper, this trade makes sense for all parties involved. The Browns would have gotten a potential franchise quarterback, the Bengals get two high draft picks, and A.J. McCarron finally gets to start on his own team and escape the backup life. Now that the trade didn’t go through, things are a bit more complicated. The Browns still don’t have a legitimate starting quarterback. They will have to try to get one in the 2018 NFL draft. The Bengals will have to hold onto McCarron whose contract situation is complicated. McCarron now has to go at least another year before getting to start. There is uncertainty as to whether McCarron will be considered a restricted or unrestricted free agent next season. If the Bengals don’t move him before he becomes a free agent they will end up getting nothing in return for him.

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In all, this trade could have been a turning point for both franchises. With the two draft picks, the Bengals could have gotten a lot in return. These players could have made a huge impact on the team for years to come. As it stands now, the failed trade represents nothing more than another missed opportunity for the Bengals.

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