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With one Bengals backup QB to find out FA status, another reportedly dealing with injury

AJ McCarron, right, and Jeff Driskel, handled the quarterback duties for the Bengals on Thursday at Indianapolis as starters and several key subs sat out the game, but Driskel left the game in the first half with a thumb injury and didn't return (WKRC/Richard Skinner)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The Bengals may be on very shaky ground when it comes to their backup quarterback thanks to a decision that is expected to come this Thursday for the 2017 backup and an apparent injury suffered in the final week of practice for another projected to be in the mix to be the backup in 2018.

AJ McCarron is expected to find out Thursday whether or not he is a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent when his grievance over his status is heard, while Jeff Driskel reportedly is dealing with a broken left (non-throwing) arm that has his return date in question.

The Bengals claim McCarron a restricted free agent because he missed most of his rookie season with a shoulder injury, while McCarron filed a grievance saying he should be unrestricted.

McCarron missed his rookie season in 2014 due to a shoulder injury the team said he suffered prior to the the Bengals drafting him in the fifth round, which led to him being placed on the Non-Football Injury list that season and not playing in a game.

The grievance centers around whether the Bengals used a proper medical basis before determining the injury occurred prior to McCarron joining the team.

If it is ruled that the team used a proper medical basis for determining when the injury occurred it would give McCarron only three accrued seasons, making him a restricted free agent. If the arbitrator rules the injury happened with the Bengals, McCarron’s rookie season reverts to the physically unable to perform list (PUP), giving him four accrued seasons and making him an unrestricted free agent.

If he is an unrestricted free agent it means he is free to negotiate a contract with any NFL team, including the Bengals. But he's made it clear he wants to be a starter and that isn't going to happen with the Bengals since Andy Dalton is entrenched as the starter.

If he is a restricted free agent the Bengals can make him a tender offer that would give the team either a first, second or fifth-round draft pick (his original draft round) as compensation if another team signs him. However, if another team doesn't then the Bengals would have to pay him the tender offer in 2018.

The tender amounts in 2017 were:

  • First round: $3.91 million.
  • Second round: $2.746 million.
  • Original round: $1.797 million.

As for Driskel, he missed the majority of the 2017 season due to a broken right hand suffered in the preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts.

He was placed on injured reserve, but returned to practice late in the season and apparently broke his left arm in the final week of practice, according to the team's official website.

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