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Bengals QB AJ McCarron awaits ruling, wants to have his 'chance'

From ESPN - February 15, 2018

Cincinnati Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron should find out soon if he's a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent.

McCarron said after the season that he should know the outcome of his grievance, filed against the Bengals, by Feb. 15.

While McCarron believes he should be free to sign with any team when the free agency opens on March 14, the Bengals believe he did not accrue enough time on the active roster to get that designation. Therefore, they think they should still have his rights.

McCarron filed the grievance last spring and has been waiting a long time to hear the result, but it's a tricky situation.

According to the NFL CBA, players with four or more accrued seasons will become unrestricted free agents at the conclusion of their contracts. However, to accrue a season toward free agency, the player must spend at least six games that year on "full pay status." The CBA says that does not include "games for which the player was on: the Exempt Commissioner Permission List, the Reserve PUP List as a result of a nonfootball injury, or a Clubs Practice Squad."

McCarron spent most of his rookie season on the non-football injury list after the Bengals selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Alabama. McCarron came to the Bengals with a shoulder issue that affected his ability to throw in OTAs. He participated in minicamp but was placed on NFI before training camp.

The NFI list is reserved for players that had an injury that took place away from the team, which can include injuries that happened in college. That's part of the basis of McCarron's case. According to the team website, one part of the case revolves around "whether the Bengals used a proper medical basis to determine that McCarron suffered his shoulder injury elsewhere and was eligible for NFI."

If McCarron had been placed on regular PUP (for injuries that happened with the team) or injured reserve instead, he would have been able to accrue a year toward free agency.

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