REPORTS: Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron wins arbitration case, will be unrestricted free agent

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron won his arbitration case and will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year in March.

CLEVELAND -- According to multiple national reports, quarterback AJ McCarron won his arbitration case against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Because of the victory in the grievance, McCarron will be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts in mid-March.

McCarron had to fight for unrestricted status because of a decision made by the Bengals during his rookie season in 2014.

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McCarron did not play as a rookie because of an injury he suffered while at the University of Alabama. Although the Alabama doctors cleared him as being fully healthy, McCarron was placed on the non-football injury list by the Bengals.

By the Bengals doing so, McCarron did not accrue enough time on the active roster to put the year toward unrestricted free agency.

Had McCarron lost the case, the Bengals would have been able to place a tender on him and get draft compensation should he sign an offer sheet with a new team and they elect not to retain his services. The Bengals would have had five days to match any offer sheet McCarron signed, but now, he is free to sign a binding contract with any team when the new league year gets underway at 4 p.m. on March 14.

In 11 games over four years with the Bengals, McCarron completed 86 of his 133 pass attempts (64.7 percent) for 920 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions. His longest touchdown was a 66-yard score during the 2015 season.

Also, McCarron threw 12 passes for at least 20 yards and two for 40 or more yards. He carried a quarterback rating of 93.6 during his time in Cincinnati.

McCarron’s most prolific season with the Bengals came in 2015, when he appeared in seven games in relief of injured starter Andy Dalton. McCarron completed 79 of his 119 attempts (66.4 percent) for 854 yards and six touchdowns against two interceptions.

Despite being sacked 12 times, McCarron threw 11 passes for 20 or more yards and two that went for at least 40 yards.

Additionally, McCarron rushed for 31 yards and three first downs on 14 carries.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) drops back to pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

During a postseason start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McCarron completed 23 of his 41 passes (56.1 percent) for 212 yards and one touchdown against one interception. He was sacked on three occasions and fumbled three times, one of which was recovered by the Steelers.

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In the final minutes before the NFL Trade Deadline in early November of 2017, the Browns agreed to send two draft picks to the Bengals in exchange for McCarron. However, the mishandling of filing paperwork with the NFL Offices ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline nullified the deal.