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Cincinnati’s Backup QB Situation

Are the Bengals preparing for a change?

Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

In an offseason that has been full of big news around the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals have experienced a somewhat mellow spring compared to the AFC North counterparts. This comes even after Cincinnati convinced Marvin Lewis to return as the head coach after he announced during the 2017 season that he would not return in 2018 to coach the Bengals. That event alone should be enough to say the team’s offseason contained some excitement. However, that was not the only move that Cincinnati needed to make.

The Bengals needed to also find a new backup quarterback. At the trade deadline during the 2017 season, Cincinnati had agreed to trade their backup quarterback to Cleveland in exchange for a second and third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, the Browns failed to file the paperwork by the deadline, voiding the trade completely. A few days later news broke that McCarron filed a labor grievance against Cincinnati. The grievance claimed the McCarron was healthy enough during the 2014 training camp, his rookie season, to be removed from the non-football injury list, therefore counting towards his NFL experience.

Therefore, McCarron felt that he should be an unrestricted free agent following the 2017 season. The Bengals claimed the McCarron should be a restricted free agent. This meant that McCarron could negotiate with other teams but Cincinnati possessed the right of first refusal if McCarron signed with another team. McCarron won his grievance in February, becoming an unrestricted free agent and ultimately signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Buffalo Bills a month later. This left Cincinnati without a backup in 2018 for Andy Dalton, a seven-year veteran for the Bengals.

During his four seasons in Cincinnati, McCarron played in 11 games, including three starts during the 2015 season. Over those four seasons, McCarron completed 86 of his 133 pass attempts, totaling up to 920 yards. McCarron is also credited with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Overall, McCarron has a 93.6 passer rating.

As a result, Cincinnati signed Matt Barkley to backup Dalton for 2018. Barkley was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Barkley spent two seasons with the Eagles before being traded to the Arizona Cardinals on September 4, 2015.  On September 3, 2016, nearly one year later, Barkley was released by the Cardinals. The following day the Chicago Bears signed Barkley to their practice squad. Barkley then initially signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017 before being beaten out of the job by Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard in September 2017. In November 2017 Barkley signed another deal with the Cardinals because of the possibility of Drew Stanton missing playing time due to a knee sprain.

Although his time in the NFL has been spent with numerous teams, Barkley has played in 11 games, including six starts. In those 11 games, Barkley has completed 159 of his 266 attempts to total up to 1911 yards. On the other hand, Barkley has thrown for only eight touchdowns compared to his 18 interceptions thrown. Barkley has a career passer rating of 63.7.

With statistics noticeably worse than McCarron’s statistics, maybe Cincinnati signed Barkley to the team for another reason.

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