As the NFL Scouting Combine comes to a close, the Cleveland Browns find themselves linked to a potential quarterback target -- and it's not one of the top prospects in the 2018 draft class.
According to MMQB.com's Peter King, the Browns remain intrigued with now-former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron. Last month, McCarron won his grievance against the Bengals, which will make him a free agent when the NFL offseason officially begins on March 14.
This comes from an executive with a historically reliable ear to the ground: Cleveland, with four picks in the top 35 of the draft, is still exceedingly interested in signing free-agent quarterback A.J. McCarron after the trade-deadline-day debacle last fall … and then backstopping him with a rookie quarterback in the draft. I’m hearing that’s coach Hue Jackson’s preference, having coached McCarron in Cincinnati as Bengals offensive coordinator.
This, of course, isn't the first time Cleveland has been linked to the former Bengals' backup.
Last fall, the Browns and Bengals agreed on a trade deadline deal, which would have sent McCarron to Cleveland in exchange for a second and third-round pick. The deal, however, ultimately didn't occur as the Browns failed to file the proper paperwork with the league office by the time the trade deadline had passed.
Weeks later, Jackson was spotted hugging McCarron prior to the Bengals' Nov. 26 victory over the Browns in Cincinnati.
But while at this point, it appears Cleveland is the most likely landing spot for McCarron, who has said he'll value the opportunity to start for a team more than money, that doesn't necessarily preclude the Browns from also using one of their two first-round picks on a quarterback this spring.
Thus far, there's been little-to-no indication as to which of the quarterback prospects Jackson and general manager John Dorsey favor. But it's beginning to become a little more clear who it will be that Cleveland's next rookie quarterback will begin his career backing up.