Report: Bengals tried to trade McCarron, but Browns fumbled the handoff

CINCINNATI --  Leave it to the Browns to fumble the AJ McCarron trade.

Then again, we don't know who to blame - the Bengals or Browns -- for why the deal went right down to the 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday.

All we know, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is that the Bengals confirmed the deal with the NFL at 3:55 and the Browns did not. The Browns then appealed to the NFL to allow the trade, but that's like asking the game officials to put a few more minutes on the clock when you're knocking on the goal line.

The NFL said no.

And now it's a lose-lose situation for both teams. McCarron, as good a backup QB as there is, will say goodbye to the Bengals in free agency next year in search of a starting job - assuming he wins his dispute with the team over service time.

We don't know what the Browns offered for McCarron in terms of draft picks - some reports say  second- and third-round picks. If so, that would have been a huge haul for the fifth-round pick in 2014.

Whatever the deal was, it was better than nothing, which is what the Bengals probably will get now.

And the Browns will go 0-16 this year and Hue Jackson will be on the street. It makes you wonder if the Browns front office - which has been at odds with Jackson, the former Bengals offensive coordinator  -- didn't sabotage the deal.

Of course, there could be a job waiting for Jackson in Cincinnati next season.

The report that the Bengals tried to make a last-minute deal might come as a shock, since the franchise hasn’t made a lot of in-season trades over the years. Actually, we should say almost never.

The exception over the last 30 years is the Oct. 18, 2011 trade that sent Carson Palmer to Oakland for a first- and second-round pick. Palmer, of course, forced that trade.

McCarron is not in the position that Palmer was in, i.e., McCarron wasn’t going to retire rather than play for the Bengals.

But you can be sure McCarron won't come back next year if he doesn't have to. The Bengals claim McCarron is a restricted free agent because he missed his first season with a non-football injury. McCarron claims he should get credit for that year and be free to jump ship.

Either way, it seems ludicrous to risk letting a valuable asset get away for nothing. But that deal was sealed when third-string QB Jeff Driskel broke two fingers in the final exhibition game. He was placed on injured reserve. There is no other quarterback on the roster other than McCarron to fill in should Andy Dalton get hurt.  

But beyond the matter of trading McCarron, Bengals fans have to be asking why the team didn't make a move for offensive line help.

Other teams in the position the Bengals are -- clinging to contention with obvious weaknesses -- would make a trade or two to address said weaknesses.

Marvin Lewis was asked about the possibility of doing just that at his press conference Monday.

“You would have to tell me who’s available to trade for that’s going to upgrade our football team at that spot,” he said. “I don’t know of any team that has a player standing on the sideline like that -- someone who would come in and upgrade you right away -- a team who is willing to sacrifice their own QB. Generally, guys who are traded are players who are disgruntled or are underachieving in some way -- players for whom a new address may be good. 

“Also, in those cases, teams are clearing off cap room to make available for a young player the next year, or whatever it may be. There is a lot involved in doing trades. But yet, there are some trades that may surprise you. But those aren’t my worries. My worries are the guys we’ve got in this building.”

Shortly after Lewis said that, Seattle obtained Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown from Houston for cornerback Jeremy Lane,a fifth-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2019.

Brown would be a big upgrade over either Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher. Brown has only played one game this year after ending a holdout. But Pro Football Focus rated him at 84.6 last year. PFF has Fisher at 43.6 and Ogbuehi at 43.3.

Would the Texans have made that trade for say, Dre Kirkpatrick and the picks? (Side note: PFF rates William Jackson -- 82.4 -- and Darqueze Dennard -- 77.1 -- better than Adam Jones -- 55.4 -- and Kirkpatrick -- 47.0.)

We don’t know even know if the Bengals talked to the Texans. What we do know is the Bengals are almost never active as far as in-season trades.

We also know that the offensive line is playing abysmally. The run game is going nowhere and Dalton is getting hit way to often. It’s hard to imagine things suddenly getting better after seven games. 

So if the Bengals had a shot at getting Brown and didn’t take it, that would seem to indicate that it’s business as usual down at Paul Brown Stadium.

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