Cincinnati Bengals Part Ways With Fan-Favorite Quarterback

The Cincinnati Bengals released quarterback AJ McCarron in a move that may signal the end of the former fifth-round draft pick's career.

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals released veteran backup quarterback AJ McCarron today. The move ends McCarron’s second stint with the team and, possibly, his NFL career.

Though McCarron was not signed for 2024, he technically was under contract until the new league year begins March 13. By releasing him today, the Bengals are allowing McCarron to sign with a spring league.

Last season, the Bengals signed McCarron to the practice squad ahead of their Week 3 Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams. Starting quarterback Joe Burrow had reaggravated his calf injury the previous week against Baltimore, and Cincinnati was unsure whether he would be able to play.

Cincinnati Bengals Release QB AJ McCarron

The Bengals had McCarron and Trace McSorley in for tryouts on Sept. 21, two days ahead of the game against the Rams. They elected to sign McCarron, whom they originally drafted in the fifth round in 2014.

Burrow fought through the injury and started that game against Los Angeles, leading the Bengals to their first win of the season, 19-16.

McCarron remained on the practice squad until Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11. Cincinnati then promoted McCarron to the 53-man roster to be Jake Browning’s backup.

In a 34-14 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14, McCarron took his first snap in an NFL game since the 2021 season finale — when he threw a 20-yard pass on a fake punt for the Houston Texans.

McCarron entered the game while Browning was dealing with cramping in his right forearm.

“I didn’t know if I’d get another chance to play, even after they signed me (to the practice squad) in September,” McCarron said after the game. “I’ve always had so much love for this city, and it was just awesome to be back out there.”

MORE: Will Tee Higgins Stay in Cincinnati?

In the Bengals’ season finale, McCarron took the field late in the 31-14 victory and completed 3 of 4 passes for 20 yards.

The highlight of McCarron’s career came in 2015 when he took over as the starter after Andy Dalton broke his thumb in Week 14. McCarron went 2-1 as a starter to help the Bengals win the AFC North. Then, in the team’s Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he threw a go-ahead, 25-yard TD pass to A.J. Green with 1:50 left in the game.

It appeared that would be the play that ended the franchise’s 25-year drought without a playoff victory, but a Jeremy Hill fumble and back-to-back personal fouls by Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones enabled the Steelers to rally for the victory.

McCarron would make only one more start in his NFL career, which was in the 2019 season finale for the Texans.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Bengals Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Bengals Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.

Join the Conversation!

Related Articles