Who Is AJ McCarron? A Look at UFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks’ Starting Quarterback in 2024

Former Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron will be back in action for spring football this year as he returns to lead the UFL's St. Louis Battlehawks.

The inaugural United Football League kicks off on March 30 and returns several teams from the USFL and XFL spring leagues.

In the UFL, a combination of four XFL and four USFL teams have merged to form a new spring football league. Former Alabama and Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron is back with the St. Louis Battlehawks for a second season.

AJ McCarron To Lead Battlehawks in 2024

McCarron dominated the XFL last season. He led the XFL in touchdown passes and had six scoring strikes in St. Louis’ regular-season finale. McCarron’s football journey also includes a pair of national championships as Alabama’s starting quarterback.

With the Battlehawks in 2023, McCarron completed 203 of 295 passes for 2,150 yards with 24 touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games. He led the XFL in touchdown passes, completion percentage, and passing-efficiency rating.

That performance helped him land a backup role with the Bengals for a ninth season in the NFL, but he requested to be released so he could re-sign with the Battlehawks.

McCarron briefly saw action in two games last season with the Bengals. He completed his only attempt in Cincinnati’s Week 14 win over the Indianapolis Colts and three of four passes in the Bengals’ win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 18.

Battlehawks offensive coordinator Bruce Gradkowski is preparing to open his second season calling plays for the team and said having McCarron on the team is helpful.

“Having AJ around helps a ton,” Gradkowski said on Tuesday. “He is a master of the details — almost too much at times. I have to push him out of the office, like, ‘OK, bro, go get some sleep. Go get some rest. Don’t you have a wife and three boys to go call and FaceTime?’

“But that’s what I love about AJ — and I respect it so much — is how he approaches the game. He’s had a lot of success in the NFL. He’s played a while there, and to come to us in the UFL and to approach it the right way and be the right teammate, be the right leader.

“And we’re all continuing to learn and grow, and I think he takes that approach as well. So it’s been fun because he helps detail things up, and he’s got great knowledge of football in general. And I won’t be surprised when he’s coaching one day.”

The Battlehawks play the Michigan Panthers at 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit. FOX will televise the game.

Michigan posted a 4-6 record last season, which tied for the top spot in the USFL North. The Battlehawks posted a 7-3 record last season.

“Going into Week 1, you never know what to expect,” McCarron said. “… Really, it’s just about us, focusing on our job, doing what we’re supposed to, being in the right spot, communication being good, and then just going out and playing and then kind of adjusting from there. I’m excited about the matchup and excited to be at Ford Field and play again.”

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