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AJ McCarron won his grievance against the Cincinnati Bengals and will become an unrestricted free agent next month
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, 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
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.
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
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, 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, 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.
The news that Adam Vinatieri is signing on for another year as the Colts’ kicker is good news in Indianapolis, because at age 45 he’s still playing well.
It’s also another reminder of what a remarkable career Vinatieri has had. Here are some of the records that he has either already set or is closing in on:
Field goals: Vinatieri has kicked 559 field goals, second-most in NFL history. He should break Morten Andersen’s record of 565 within the first few games of the regular season.
Postseason field goals: Vinatieri has by far the most postseason field goals in NFL history, with 56 (30 with the Colts and 26 with the Patriots). He can keep adding to that total if the Colts are in the playoffs this year, although he’s so far ahead of everyone else in NFL history that the record will be his for many years regardless of whether he ever kicks another playoff field goal. If anyone is ever going to break Vinatieri’s record it’s probably his successor as Patriots kicker
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, Stephen Gostkowski, who has 34 postseason field goals.
Points scored: Vinatieri has scored 2,487 points in his career, with 808 extra points, 559 field goals and one two-point conversion. He should break Morten Andersen’s all-time record of 2,544 this season.
Postseason points scored: With 234 points, Vinatieri has the all-time record by a large margin. Stephen Gostkowski, with 180 postseason points, is probably the player with the best chance of catching him eventually.
Extra points made: Vinatieri has kicked 808 extra points
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, which means he’s almost certain to pass Gary Anderson (820) for third-place all time this season. He has a chance of passing Morten Andersen (849) for second place, but George Blanda’s record (943) is out of reach for at least three more years.
Regular season games played: Vinatieri has played in 337 games, good for fifth all-time. If he plays all 16 games in 2018, he’ll pass George Blanda (340) and Jeff Feagles (352) and tie Gary Anderson with 353 games played, for the second most in NFL history. Only Morten Andersen, with 382 games played, would be ahead of Vinatieri.
Postseason games played: Vinatieri has played in 30 postseason games, second all-time. If the Colts reach the playoffs he’ll add to that total, although he’s not going to catch his old teammate Tom Brady
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, who has the NFL record with 37 postseason games played.
Vinatieri will turn 46 in December, and at that point he’ll be just the fourth player ever to play at that age, joining George Blanda, Morten Andersen and John Carney.
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