The Cleveland Browns have signed quarterback Josh Rosen, the NFL team announced on Friday.
On Thursday, Rosen and former Alabama All-American QB AJ McCarron worked out for the Browns, who had three quarterbacks on their roster, including Deshaun Watson, whose playing status is up in the air.
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McCarron and Rosen have crossed paths in the NFL previously. Slated to back up Matt Ryan for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, McCarron suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a preseason game on Aug. 21. Three days, later the Falcons signed Rosen.
The injury kept McCarron sidelined for the entire 2021 season, and he’s been an unrestricted free agent since March 16.
Rosen played in four games with the Falcons in 2021. He completed 2-of-11 passes for 19 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rosen entered the NFL from UCLA as the 10th player picked in the 2018 draft. After Rosen started 13 games for Arizona as a rookie, the Cardinals used the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and traded Rosen to the Miami Dolphins.
Rosen started three games in 2019 as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup, but he didn’t make the team in 2020 after Miami drafted Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick that year. Rosen spent most of the 2020 season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad before signing with the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 23. He did not play that season.
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The Browns are awaiting a ruling from retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson, who was appointed as the league’s disciplinary officer this year by the NFL and the players’ union.
Robinson conducted a three-day hearing in the first week of July to determine if Watson had violated the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women who are involved in massage therapy. Earlier this month, he settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits filed against him by the women.
If Robinson finds Watson violated the policy, the league and the NFLPA have the option of appealing her punishment, which would allow NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (or someone he designates to hear the appeal) to determine what happens with Watson.
A first-round draft pick in 2017 and a Pro Bowl selection in 2018, 2019 and 2020, Watson did not play for the Texans in 2021 after souring on the team and its leadership last offseason.
Houston shopped Watson this offseason, and the Browns won the sweepstakes for the QB by sending six draft picks to the Texans, including first-round selections in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Cleveland then signed Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract.
The other quarterbacks on Cleveland’s roster are Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs.
Brissett is preparing for his seventh NFL season. He worked as the Indianapolis Colts’ starter in 2017 and 2019 and started five games last season for the Miami Dolphins when injuries sidelined Tua Tagovailoa.
Dobbs entered the NFL in 2017, but he’s played in only six NFL regular-season games – five in 2018 and one in 2020 – and thrown 17 passes for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McCarron earned All-State honors in football and baseball at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Mobile and helped the Saints win the AHSAA Class 5A football championship in 2007.
McCarron was the starting quarterback for the Alabama teams that won the BCS national championships for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In 2013, he became the Crimson Tide’s all-time passing leader, won the Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
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McCarron entered the NFL as a fifth-round selection in the 2014 draft and spent four seasons as a backup to Andy Dalton with the Cincinnati Bengals.
When Dalton suffered a broken thumb in 2015, McCarron started the final three games of the regular season and a postseason game, nearly leading the Bengals to their first playoff victory in 25 years before the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied in the waning moments for an 18-16 win.
McCarron joined the Buffalo Bills as a free agent in 2018. He competed with Nathan Peterman, Buffalo’s backup in 2017, and Josh Allen, the seventh player picked in that year’s draft, to become Buffalo’s starting quarterback.
Buffalo picked Peterman to be its starter (a decision that lasted one game). As NFL teams reduced their 90-player preseason rosters to the regular-season limit of 53 on Sept. 1, 2018, Buffalo traded McCarron to the Oakland Raiders for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
McCarron served as Derek Carr’s backup with the Raiders during the 2018 season.
On March 14, 2019, the Raiders released McCarron with a season left on his contract. Had he been on the Raiders’ roster the next day, McCarron would have been due a $1.9 million bonus and $1.1 million of his $3 million salary for the 2019 season would have become guaranteed.
Five days later, McCarron signed a one-year contract for the 2019 season to join the Houston Texans, where he backed up Watson. He re-signed with Houston in 2020, too, before joining the Falcons last year.
During the six NFL seasons in which he has played, McCarron has worked as a backup for a quarterback picked for the Pro Bowl four times.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.