The big trade talk early this offseason has been New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He is entering the final season of his rookie contract, and the Patriots will likely want to deal him for some kind of compensation since only injury and mop-up duty would get him playing time next season.
However, there is another quarterback who could be in the mix for trade discussions. The Patriots drafted Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and three rounds later, the Cincinnati Bengals spent a fifth round pick on Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. Like Garoppolo, McCarron is going to be a free agent after the 2017 season, and has spent his career as the primary backup. Andy Dalton is not going anywhere, so Cincinnati will likely look to cash in with some kind of compensation for McCarron.
McCarron did not play his rookie season, but made four significant appearances his second season. He took over against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Dalton suffered an early injury, and McCarron started the team’s final three games and wild card round playoff game. In that five-game span, he completed 63.5 percent of his passes (99/156) for 1,044 yards, with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. The Bengals were 2-3 in those games.
I bring this up now because our friends at Cincy Jungle included the 49ers with three other teams that might make sense for McCarron. Fittingly enough, the Bengals claimed 49ers rookie quarterback Jeff Driskel off waivers after the team waived him at the end of training camp. Driskel served as the Bengals third string quarterback all season.
Garoppolo seems all but certain to be dealt this offseason, and given the need for early quarterback decisions, I have to think it happens in March shortly after the new league year opens. McCarron would almost assuredly be a cheaper option for teams, both in terms of the draft picks they would have to give up, and the amount of money they would need to pay on the long-term extension that would come with any trade.
There are a lot of teams that are going to need to make a move at quarterback. The Cincy Jungle article mentions the 49ers, Bills, Browns, and Washington. But the Bears and Cardinals could also join the mix if they decide to move on from their current veteran quarterbacks. It could help pump up the market for McCarron amidst the rush for Garoppolo.