AJ McCarron is finally going to get his chance to make a mark on the NFL. And the former Alabama quarterback is extremely thankful for that opportunity.
The news McCarron was hoping to hear came down on Thursday afternoon– he will be an unrestricted free agent in March after an independent arbitrator ruled in his favor on a grievance filed against the Cincinnati Bengals regarding his service time with the team. It was determined that the team had improperly used its injured list to manipulate his service time during his rookie season in 2014.
Not only will he receive lost salary with interest from his time on the NFI list that year, but he’ll now be free to sign with any team that he chooses when NFL free agency opens up next month.
Predictably, McCarron was overwhelmed with emotion when he received word that he’d be able to flee the shadow of Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who he has spent the better part of four seasons backing up in Cincinnati.
The former Crimson Tide star told The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jim Owczarski that the ruling was a “blessing” for his career.
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” McCarron said of getting a chance to compete for a starting job. “I’m just super excited. Just really excited that I get that opportunity now and I just can’t wait to just showcase what I can do and show a team that I can lead a team and win ballgames.”
Now that we know the 27 year old will get his chance to display the championship-caliber skills Crimson Tide fans are all too familiar with, the question becomes what makes the perfect match for McCarron moving forward?
Will he go for the biggest payday available? Or will he be willing to take less cash in order to ensure that he lands in a position to play immediately in 2018?
You can read between the lines in his answers to Owczarski.
“We’re going to be open to everything,” he said of his impending free agency. “I’m not the one — the people that know me and truly know me, and my family knows — it’s not about the money for me. I just love playing football. Making the money is great but I just want to play. that’s what I grew up on. that’s what you’re raised on. Like here in the south, you’re raised to love football. It’s not about money. I just want to play. Whoever gives me an opportunity. I’m not going to chase the huge contract and be put in a situation that I might not be one hundred percent comfortable with just because it’s a lot more money or whatever. I want to go somewhere where I can win and help the team win and we have a bright future together. I’m just super excited for this next chapter.”
It’s worth noting that the Cleveland Browns attempted to trade for McCarron during the 2017 NFL season, but that proposed agreement reportedly was not submitted to the league in time to make the NFL trade deadline cutoff.
McCarron, who also went out of his way to make sure people knew it was never a “personal issue” with the Bengals organization, was a three-time national champion at Alabama under Nick Saban’s direction. He was the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback during the 2012 and 2013 BCS national title runs.
The post New free agent AJ McCarron makes intentions clear: ‘It’s not about the money for me’ appeared first on SEC Country.
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