Acquiring McCarron first step for Bills’ plan at quarterback

Photo of QB AJ McCarron from

The Buffalo Bills have had quite a week. Since the “legal tampering” period opened, fans in Western New York have been bombarded with breaking news.

In his first full offseason as general manager, Brandon Beane quickly addressed glaring holes on defense, acquiring both starters and depth players in the early going. While players like Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy headlined the first official day of free agency, the most intriguing acquisition came that evening.

With popular “bridge” quarterback options like Teddy Bridgewater, Josh McCown and Sam Bradford off the market, fans began to speculate whether or not the Bills would seriously pursue a veteran signal caller. Though there are quarterbacks in the upcoming draft who will likely be NFL ready right out of the gate, a veteran mentor would still be a useful asset for a developing rookie. With only Nathan Peterman on the current depth chart, a sense of relief cascaded over the Bills Twitterverse when the news broke that the team had reached an agreement with former Cincinnati Bengals backup, A.J. McCarron.

Photo of Buffalo Bills QB AJ McCarron from

The four-year veteran entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent who many believed would sign an expensive contract on the open market. It was reported last season that the Cleveland Browns nearly acquired him in exchange for a second and third-round draft pick, but they failed to call the trade into the NFL league office prior to the trade deadline. Bills fans who were originally on the fence about the acquisition quickly came around once the details of the two-year, $10 million deal were released.

Not only did Beane manage to hold his cards long enough to sign a viable backup for pennies on the dollar, he effectively added a player who just months prior, was nearly traded for two high draft picks. Add that to the fact he managed to obtain the first pick of the third round in exchange for Tyrod Taylor, the rookie GM was masterful in executing his plan.

How about that process, huh?

Despite a near perfect start to the offseason, there is one critical piece left to the puzzle. A veteran is a nice addition, but the Bills still need to use the plethora of draft picks in their war chest to move up into the top-five and select a franchise quarterback. McCarron’s role next season will ultimately be determined by who the Bills pick in April.

Photo of QB Baker Mayfield from

If the front office decides to climb to the top of the draft and select one of Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield, then McCarron might never see the field. Both players are incredibly polished. The professional stage won’t be too big for either of them. Say what you will about their respective attitudes, but these young men bring a fire and confidence that the franchise has lacked since the early-90’s.

Should Beane and company set their sights on Josh Allen, Sam Darnold or Lamar Jackson, they might be better suited letting the veteran take the reins for the 2018-19 season. All three players have potential, but there is a great deal of fine-tuning that needs to occur before throwing them into the fire.

In his introductory press conference, McCarron expressed his excitement at the opportunity to compete for playing time in Buffalo. While he certainly won’t concede the starting role, he realizes that the Bills are likely to draft a quarterback of the future, and he’s prepared to serve as a mentor.

“I think you always help a younger guy along,” he said. “I have never been the type to not do that. I think karma is a son of a gun and it can come back to bite you. If I am better than the other guy, then I just trust in my talents and go out and play my game. If it doesn’t work out, then you learn to be a great teammate, be a part of the team.”

At the end of the day, whether you’re a fan of McCarron or not, the Bills bought themselves an inexpensive, reliable insurance policy at the game’s most important position. Even something as mundane and seemingly irrelevant as a depth quarterback signing shows that this regime has a different approach. For the first time in decades, there is a clear direction at One Bills Drive.

Stay tuned.

Editor’s babble: Very excited to introduce Anthony Sciandra to the BillsMafia-blog family (we’re proud of both of our ‘Anthonys’ :)  We look forward to his contributions! You can follow Anthony on Twitter @SciandraSports. Welcome aboard! Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Anthony is another proud University at Buffalo alumnus. Congratulations #UBmenshoops on their stunning victory over Arizona at the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. #UBhornsUP.

As always, views expressed are the authors and do not necessarily represent the owners of the website.

About Anthony Sciandra

I'm a passionate Buffalo sports fan, former amateur pugilist, and UB alum. Born and raised in Western New York.

25 Replies to “Acquiring McCarron first step for Bills’ plan at quarterback”

  1. Last season the chicago bears signed “veteran” qb mike glenon and paid him $18.5 mil for (4) starts, then proceeded to sell the farm to draft nitch tribusky.
    many thought that glennon would be a solid bridge player, but he was not.

    the bills are likely to mirror the same strategy because while some believe mccaron could be a solid player, there is no guarantee. the bills are still poised to draft a franchise QB and if they believe he is available, they will make a deal to get him.

    how about UB pulling off the upset ! who would have thought? and they play kentucky saturday- paging cowgirl!
    go UB and Syracuse ! (also loyola, another cinderella story and my daughter’s school) cool having three teams in the dance to root for.
    peace and have a great week-end!

  2. Good morning…

    The dust will soon settle on the opening FA market and the draft will become the focus.. Nobody can see the Bills standing pat as they will have to move up if they want to get one of the top QB’s coming out.. Denver and the Jets have also signed veteran QB’s as they search for their franchise QB… The Jets have drafted QB’s four straight years and this looks like a fifth even though they just signed Bridgewater and McCowan.

    Will the Colts or G-men be willing to trade down or even the Browns who like stock piling picks and maybe willing to trade if the get a #1 for next year….

    The Bills need to start addressing the O-line and hopefully Guard John Miller gets out of the dog house and can compete for a starting position.

  3. Awwww Crap !!!

    ets Move Up To 3: In a move that was made clearly to keep the Bills at bay, the Jets moved up from the 6th spot to the third spot in the draft as they gave the Colts three second round picks to make the move. The Jets paid a premium spot for the move three spots. The Bills only hope to get ahead of them is to make a deal with the Giants for the #2 spot but that may be cost prohibitive to go up 10 spots based on what the Jets paid to go up 3. Getting their guy at QB appears unlikely unless they mortgage the farm and I don’t think Brandon Beane is ready to do that.It appears the Bills may have to stay put at 12 or move up into the lower half of the top 10 to get what could be their 2nd or 3rd choice at QB.

  4. Dammit!

    If the Giants aren’t shopping for a QB, though…two firsts, a second, and a third is still better than what the Jets gave up. Why the Colts didn’t trade with the Bills, though?

  5. does anyone trust the jets to pick the right guy? not me. you almost want the jets to pick before the bills so they get the wrong guy off the board….

  6. If the Bills really want to trade up, I am sure they know who is willing to trade with them to get them in the top 5-10 of the draft.

    I give the Jets credit for pulling the trigger this soon after free agency. Knowing they did not get Cousins, they probably wanted to ensure they got one of the top 3 QB’s in the draft and made the commitment sooner than later.

  7. I’ve been wanting the Bills to either “tank,” or package together picks so they can draft a QB at the top of the draft for a long time and I still stand by that. We’ll see if it happens. The Jets have made it harder for the Bills to do it, but one thing is for sure, the Bills have plenty of ammo to do it if they choose to. Right now, it’s way too early to tell if the Jets made a mistake or the right move.

  8. “Right now, it’s way too early to tell if the Jets made a mistake or the right move.”

    The only way the Jets made a mistake is if they did it for the nonsense speculation that it’s for Barkley and not a QB. They might swing and miss, but it’s not a mistake to give up what they did for a potential franchise QB. If the Bills could move up and not give up any first round picks on top of the one they’re swapping, we’d be declaring McBeane the best front office of all time. This has always been the danger of not owning your own high draft pick, though. Just because you have a lot of draft ammo doesn’t mean another team has to take it. If the Giants want a QB, they’re not trading. If they don’t covet a QB, it’s going to cost a huge price, and another team might be willing to pay it…or they might feel 12 is still too far to drop to. Starting to seem like you gotta hope a guy they like falls. Let’s just hope that guy isn’t Allen…

  9. the jets paid a high price that will be difficult to recover from- a total of (3) second round picks, (2) this year. basically three potential impact players.
    hard to fill any holes in your roster like that.

    • Agreed. I don’t expect them to be competing for the division title for a while with the amount of holes the Jets have on their team.

      I heard Sal C. mention on WGR550 that it’s possible the Giants did not want to trade with the Jets because they are in the same city and want to remain the dominant NYC team. Interesting theory and hopefully Sal is correct. Also saw on TBD via Dan Patrick (twitter) that the Bills have contacted the Browns about moving to #1. I’m sure it’s the Bills doing their due diligence or just a smokescreen.

  10. Disagree. If they pick the right QB, that’s all that matters. Like I said, if the Bills only gave up #12, two 2s this year, and a 2 next year, we would be jumping up and down at how great a job they did. If you think three 2s is too much, get ready to bend over if the Bills get in the top two! I don’t think Cleveland is moving and I don’t know if the Giants will move or the Bills will trade what it’ll cost. I hope they have some healthy dialog with the Giants because otherwise they should have been in much deeper talks with the Colts. I would have made a better offer than three 2s…

  11. It is going to get interesting for sure–The Giants GM and Beanie have a history together from their days with the Panthers—hopefully it is a good sign that they will communicate… The Browns could trade the #1 pick since they have the 4th pick and like to stockpile draft picks (I highly doubt they will)…

    The Jets now have 4 QB’s on the team with McCown, Bridgewater, Petty and Hagenberg (Sp)

    I like Josh Allen and wouldn’t be upset if he ends up a Bill and I also like Mayfield…

  12. I wouldn’t be upset if Allen falls to the Bills at 12 and they take him. I would be upset if the Bills trade a mountain of picks to move up for him, though. He might have the most upside potential, but he also has the most downside of the top 4 prospects. I think he’s the most likely to Ryan Leaf/Jamarcus Russell of the bunch. I’d rather the Bills stay at 12 and just take whoever falls to them than trade up for Allen.

    • So far, Beane doesn’t appear to be a Whaley/Brandon type where he’ll waste two first round picks on a WR in a WR heavy draft. So far, both him and McDermott have been methodical in their approach and haven’t made snap decisions. If they continue that trend, I expect they’ll make a smart decision regarding the first round of the draft. The only question is will they pony up a ton of picks to move up to 2 or 1 or stay put at 12?

  13. Bills have supposedly talked to the Browns about moving into the 1 spot…

    It will cost a fortune to move that high and expectations will be out the roof!!! It won’t matter if they pick the right QB but if they pick the wrong one it will be brutal for the next decade.

  14. “if they pick the wrong one it will be brutal for the next decade.”

    No it won’t…unless they trade the next decade of first round picks to move up. If they give up half their top picks this year and a couple next year and they miss…they cripple themselves in the draft for two years. If the guy is a total bust, they should have a top pick in 2020. Hit that pick with the right QB and they’re right back on track. NOT having a QB has been brutal for TWO decades!

    That said, I don’t think Cleveland is trading the top pick. Odds are QBs go 1,2,&3…the Browns are dumber than we think if they’re going to take whatever is left at 4 or plan to just stick with Tyrod. They can take their choice at 1 and still trade 4 for something if they REALLY want to trade down.

  15. If the Bills trade a boat load of picks for a QB that doesn’t pan it will hurt them for years to come as they will need the influx of young talent that hopefully develops into capable starters…

    An interesting Mock Draft:

    They did sign a center and a right tackle but they lost Preston Brown and DB Wright.

  16. It certainly doesn’t help your cause, but it doesn’t have to be crippling for any significant amount of time. The Bills just parted with everything from the Whaley era. People say Whaley was no good at drafting to start. Is the team a disaster now because of it? What’s the difference if it was all for a QB that didn’t work out? Whatever the case, it doesn’t take a decade to recover.

    Washington did exactly that and had a big miss with RG3. They won their division and made the playoffs a year after they dumped him. Sure, they’re not in a great place right now, but that has little to nothing to due with that trade and more just the fact they’re a poorly run organization and have been for years now.

  17. If the Bills can’t get into the top 5 of the draft, I wouldn’t be surprised if they negotiate a deal with the Colts for the # 6 pick in case their QB of choice falls that far (draft night trade, not pre-draft). I read that the Colts may be interested in more draft picks since they have so many needs.

  18. I think the Skins were decent as RG3 took them to the playoffs then ruined his knee… I can’t remember what they gave up but I know it seemed like a fortune.

    I read that Jets overpaid the Colts (using the trading chart) by 400pts setting the market.. Not sure if that is true as I won’t do the math.

  19. It’s true. Apparently if the Bills were to overpay the same with the Giants, they’d have to give up both 1s, a 2, a 3, and next year’s 2. Not sure which of the 2s and 3s…probably the ones that come first. That’s not so bad. Alternatively, a next year pick is worth a round later this year…I’d probably just give up both 3rds this year and be done with it, but if they want to spread it out, whatevs. I’m cool if they can avoid giving up next year’s first.

    • WTF !!!

      Jones Arrested: Bills WR Zay Jones has been arrested and charged with felony vandalism in a bizzare incident that TMZ reported. His brother reportedly tried to stop him from jumping out of a 30 story window. He was nude and bloody and put his foot through a windoe and tried to squeeze threw it. The Bills released a statement that said, “We are aware of the incident involving Zay Jones. We are still in the process of gathering more information on the matter. At this point, we will have no further comment.”