Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said he was “relieved” that quarterback AJ McCarron was not traded after the Cleveland Browns didn’t get the paperwork done by the trade deadline Tuesday.
“It’s not a good situation,” Lewis said of the botched trade. “AJ is a very valuable member of this team and I told him that yesterday [after] everything. Frankly, I was relieved, so I don’t have to go through those gymnastics of the next step. 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 was very clear about it, and so forth, of how we felt about him. So that’s the key.”
McCarron, who has backed up Andy Dalton since 2014, said that he spoke to Lewis on Tuesday after everything had happened.
“My agent thought it was a done deal, “McCarron said. “All I know is what I was told and paperwork got turned in a little too late and that’s why I didn’t go to them.
“I talked to Marvin for a little bit yesterday. He told me he was still glad to have me here.”
Late Tuesday, the Browns and the Bengals agreed to a trade that would send McCarron to Cleveland in exchange for the team’s second- and third-round picks in 2018. The swap was short-circuited, though, when the Browns filed their paperwork to the NFL after the 4 p.m. ET deadline, nixing the deal. An appeal to the league to let the trade go through anyway was denied.
“I’m not angry. I’m not upset,” McCarron told reporters. “It feels good to be wanted,” McCarron said. “Today I’m going to thank Mr. Brown personally. I admire that he was going to give me an opportunity to go start and play somewhere. I really appreciate that of him. He’s been an unbelievable owner in my experience here.”
The highly unusual (and embarrassing) gaffe resulted in both teams pointing fingers over who botched the trade. Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer suggests that Cleveland’s front office went about the process in unorthodox fashion, triggering the missed deadline.
“I don’t know if I have ever heard of [that happening],” Lewis said. “Obviously on draft day there is a little more urgency because if you don’t get it in, the next team could go ahead and jump you … may take your player if they have an idea that could happen.”
The failed trade raises plenty of questions about the relationship between the Browns coaching staff and their front office.
According to several reports, the coaching staff was upset with the front office for failing to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who the New England Patriots traded to the San Francisco 49ers Monday night. The coaching staff was still at the team’s headquarters while the front office had reportedly already left the facility when the trade went down.