As the Denver Broncos begin this season’s quest to find their quarterback of the future, a familiar face finds himself added to the mix of players set to hit the jackpot in free agency. Cincinnati’s A.J. McCarron won his right to become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday after an arbiter ruled that his time on the non-football injury list in 2014 should count toward his service time, since the Bengals didn’t activate him in an effort to keep him under team control.

Cincinnati radio host James Rapien joined Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro of Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 to speculate on McCarron’s next move.

The 27-year-old Alabama product has been a curiosity for the Broncos ever since Peyton Manning retired, and it’s possible that the team could pursue him if they can’t come to an agreement with top target Kirk Cousins.

“Stability,” said Rapien, when explaining what McCarron could bring to Denver. “They’re getting a guy that might not be able to elevate the Broncos, but obviously, with that roster, he might not need to. I think that A.J. McCarron can be the leader that you look for in a quarterback; he can make the necessary throws. I just don’t think he’s that bona fide, put his team on his back and get them to a championship or carry them… with that said, I think that — at least from what I know of the Broncos’ roster — it is set up for a quarterback to be stable, and you can have some success.”

“I think that A.J. McCarron going to Denver… would make some sense, depending on the money.”

Shapiro noted that Rapien’s description wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, and Rapien didn’t disagree. “He’s all right, but there’s a reason that he didn’t start ahead of Andy Dalton,” Rapien said. “Even at the end of the season… [the Bengals] still stuck with Andy, so I think it’s clear that they feel that Andy Dalton’s better — and, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think of [Dalton] as a guy that’s elevating talent around him, so if A.J. didn’t start ahead of Andy? … That’s just the reality of it.”

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