AJ McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals and will become an unrestricted free agent next month Cortez Kennedy Jersey
, making him one of the more attractive quarterbacks on the market.
McCarron challenged the Bengals’ decision to put him on a non-football injury list as a rookie in 2014, when the fifth-round pick had a sore passing shoulder. The move meant that the season wouldn’t count toward free agency and McCarron would have to stick around as Andy Dalton’s backup for one more year in 2018.
Instead, an independent arbitrator ruled in McCarron’s favor on Thursday, a decision announced by the NFL players’ association.
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The Bengals could keep him for one more season by applying a transition or franchise tag, which is highly unlikely given the cost. Instead, the 27-year-old McCarron is set to find a place where he can start.
Could it be Cleveland?
The Browns arranged a deal for McCarron shortly before the trade deadline on Oct. 31 but failed to submit the paperwork on time, scuttling the trade. Browns coach Hue Jackson was McCarron’s offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, giving him a firsthand assessment of the quarterback’s abilities.
The Browns went 0-16 last season with rookie DeShone Kizer struggling. They’re looking for stability at their most elusive position.
McCarron was a two-time national champion at Alabama. The Bengals drafted him to be Dalton’s backup, and he rarely played except in the preseason. During his four seasons, McCarron has appeared in only 11 games, most of them in the final minutes with a lopsided score.
His career-turning opportunity came in December 2015, when Dalton broke the thumb on his passing hand. McCarron started the last three games and led the Bengals to the playoffs. He then rallied the Bengals in a first-round game against Pittsburgh and had them in position to get their first playoff victory since the 1990 season Drew Bledsoe Jersey
, but Jeremy Hill fumbled and penalties on Vontaze Burfict and Adam ”Pacman” Jones set up the Steelers for a winning field goal in the final seconds.
In four seasons, McCarron has completed 86 of 133 passes for 920 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Bengals have Jeff Driskel as a backup to Dalton. He broke his hand in the preseason and was on an injury list. Driskel hasn’t played in a regular season game during his two seasons in Cincinnati.
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Miami Dolphins 14th-year veteran John Denney first saw his future career path in eighth grade, when he bent over and looked between his legs.
His coach was putting together a place-kicking team at practice, and Denney volunteered to try out as a long snapper.
“Whoever was interested lined up and started snapping the ball at a tire hanging from the uprights,” Denney said. “Beginner’s luck, I hit the chain holding the tire and it knocked the tire off the chain. At that age, that got everybody in a frenzy.”
Those cheers might still be the loudest Denney ever received for doing his job. All long snappers toil in anonymity — unless they make a mistake, and Denney doesn’t. That’s why he has been with the Dolphins since 2005, four years longer than any other active player.
At 39 he’s among the oldest players in the NFL.
“It has been a ride, that’s for sure,” Denney said following a recent practice. “I would never guess 14 years later I would still be on this field in the same place. I won the lottery.”
Is the hardest part of the job the drudgery of training camp in steamy South Florida?
“For everybody else Deion Sanders Jersey
, yeah,” Denney said with a chuckle. “My position is different.”
That’s for sure. Long snappers spend much of practice off to the side with the place-kickers and punters, often watching and chatting. It’s not bad duty for $1 million a year, which is Denney’s salary this season.
But as with any specialist, there’s pressure. Denney is expected to be nearly 100 percent accurate, and has been. When asked to tabulate the misfires, Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi paused to search his memory.
“In my nine seasons with him, I think we had confusion once on a field goal,” Rizzi said Tuesday. “Brandon Fields (the holder) wasn’t looking, and John hit him in the face mask.
“To have to sit here and think about it is a credit to him.”
And while the 6-foot-5, 242-pound Denney doesn’t log as many snaps as an every-down player, he does run downfield under punts Gerald McCoy Jersey
, and wins raves for staying in shape.
“The guy is in unbelievable physical condition,” coach Adam Gase said. “He’s the ultimate pro.”
Denney doesn’t look his age, but he’ll turn 40 in December.
“Wow. I didn’t know he was going to be 40,” said running back Frank Gore, who’s a mere 35. “He does work hard, though. During the offseason he works very, very hard.”
That includes snapping drills. Sometimes Denney recruits his 11- and 13-year-old sons to help, and hikes in the backyard.
Like everything else, practice makes perfect.
“If I give you a ball right now and you look between your legs and everything is upside down, it’s not natural,” Denney said. “It’s a matter of working at it to a point it becomes natural.”
Denney played linebacker and offensive line in high school in Charlotte, North Carolina Adam Butler Jersey
, and was a three-year starter at defensive end for Brigham Young. All the while he groomed his skills as a long snapper, which is how he made the Dolphins’ roster after going undrafted.
He played in every game as a rookie, and each year since he has played in all 16 games — 208 in total. That’s by far a team record for consecutive games, and tied for third among active NFL players.
The streak will likely grow, although Denney has nominal competition in training camp from undrafted rookie Lucas Gravelle. It’s one of the few times the team has brought in another long snapper to compete with Denney, but he said he always feels like he’s fighting for his job.
“Regardless of whether there is another body in camp, they have a list on a board somewhere with the next five best long snappers available,” he said. “It’s not like you’re ever in the clear.”
That accurately describes life in the NFL. As usual, Denney is right on target.
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