At every turn this offseason, the Bills have indicated a desire to draft a franchise quarterback and likely in the first round.
Newly signed QB AJ McCarron is largely believed to be the bridge to that future and that’s good enough for him.
“I thought it was just a great opportunity for myself to come up here and be able to compete for a starting job. That’s all you can ask for in this league,” McCarron said during his introductory press conference on Thursday.
“That was the main thing I was saying while I was in Cincinnati. It wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about anything,” he continued. “I come from absolutely nothing, so I’ve always just known ball. I just wanted a chance to compete and play. It felt like I had that opportunity here.”
McCarron was able to hit the open market after filing a grievance against the Bengals and earning the right to free agency. The Alabama native said he tries not to “waste any mental thought” on if the Bills might draft a quarterback because it’s out of his control.
“It creates mental clutter for my process that I need to do day in and day out to be the best player that I need to be,” he said. “Whatever they feel is best for the organization, I’m just going to come out and work my tail off for them and for this city. Just be the best player that I can.”
As for the “bridge label” McCarron dismissed that notion, too. In fact, he wants to create his own label.
“That’s always been my mindset: to change everybody that has any doubt or anything and just come in and work my tail off,” he said. “Really just show this organization, from everybody from the top to the bottom, that I’m here to work and be a team guy and try to help this team win in any way possible.”
In Cincinnati, McCarron only made three career starts in three seasons and saw action in 11 games.
He threw for 920 yards and six touchdowns and was intercepted twice. He played in five games extensively and the Bengals won two of them.
McCarron also started the Bengals’ 2015 Wild Card Game against Pittsburgh and rallied Cincinnati from a 15-0 deficit to a 16-15 lead. Implosions by Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones led to multiple 15-yard penalties, allowing the Steelers to kick a game-winning field goal.
“It’s always tough as a competitor,” the QB said about his lack of playing time. “I also knew the situation I was going into. (Andy Dalton) had been an established starter and had done a great job for them in the Cincy organization. My thought process was push AD to be the best player he can be, push us both and then learn to really almost be a servant again rather than a leader and figure out the best way to help the team by another role. That’s what I tried to do.”
McCarron added he is willing to help the next generation, if the Bills elect to add a young quarterback via the draft.
If not, “I believe karma is a son of a gun.”