Hearing that his trade to Cleveland had fallen apart when the Browns failed to submit paperwork in time was not the most disappointing thing Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron had to deal with on Halloween.
“What I’m more upset about is we got all that candy and nobody showed up to the house,” McCarron joked with reporters who had flocked to his locker Wednesday afternoon to get his thoughts on the trade that wasn’t.
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McCarron was in a good mood because he said he felt as though he was in a win-win situation regardless of how things played out between the Bengals and Browns front offices.
“I’m not angry about anything,” he said. “I’m not upset. It feels good to be wanted, by the team you’re on, by another team,
“It would have been really exciting, but it didn’t happen,” he added. “So I’m blessed, either situation. I’m living out my dream playing in the NFL and have a beautiful family, everybody’s healthy. There’s no hard feelings either way. It’s just a good time to be living right now.”
McCarron said he was preparing to take his son, Tripp, trick-or-treating around 3:30 p.m. when his agent called and told him he thought the trade was a done deal. About an hour later, he found out it fell through.
“We were told the deal was done and then something happened,” he said. “I really don’t know what to tell you. I’m just as lost as everybody else here.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said it was the first time he’s ever seen a trade fail to go through because one team didn’t submit the paperwork in time.
“All you have to do is notify the league office you’re making a deal,” he said. “That’s an easy thing. It’s not a good situation.”
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The Bengals had been seeking a first-round pick for McCarron in the offseason, but there were no takers. Tuesday’s trade was for a reported second- and third-round pick in 2018, which is more than the New England Patriots got when they dealt backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick Monday.
Lewis admitted he was “relieved” the trade didn’t happen.
“AJ is a very valuable member of this team,” he said. “I told him that yesterday afterward. He’s a great kid. He’s a true team player. He’s a leader. He’s a leader on this football team, and that’s why we felt like he’s such a valuable asset. And the man upstairs (team owner and president Mike Brown) was very clear about that, of how we felt about him.”
McCarron said he intended to seek out Brown and thank him for attempting to trade him.
“Today I’m going to thank Mr. Brown personally just because I admire that he was going to give me the opportunity to go start and play somewhere,” McCarron said. “I appreciate that of him. He’s been an unbelievable owner for my experience here, so I really appreciated that.”
That McCarron is willing to express that gratitude despite the fact he’s a contract dispute with the front 0ffice — one involving whether he will be an unrestricted or restricted free agent next spring and ultimately will be decided by arbitrator — is one of the reasons why the quarterback is so respected and admired by his teammates.
Many of them spent Tuesday night and Wednesday morning poking fun at McCarron over the botched deal.
“I have some really good friends in here,” McCarron said before singling out Adam Jones, Brandon LaFell, Darqueze Dennard and Vontaze Burfict.
“I had Tez tell me they would’ve been tagging me if I would have played against them,” McCarron continued. “I just stuck up both arms in a muscle form and told him, ‘Come get some.’”
Had the trade gone through, McCaron would have faced the Bengals in four weeks when the Browns come to Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 26.
McCarron said that would have been fun, but the alternative isn’t so bad either.
I’ve learned through this whirlwind of a year you can’t really expect anything until it actually happens,” he said. “I have been through a lot of mind games. I think it makes you mentally tougher, stronger, let’s you see all the crazy sides of this business in a short amount of time.
“But like I said,” he continued. “I am blessed to be in my situation and enjoying every minute of it.”