Ex-Bills QB Becomes One of the Top Picks in XFL Draft

AJ McCarron

Getty AJ McCarron in 2018.

A quarterback who played a short but important role in Buffalo Bills history is taking a new path in his career after landing as one of the XFL’s top draft picks.

The newly rebooted league has been holding a position-by-position draft, with the first day dedicated to quarterbacks. The St. Louis Battlehawks used their top pick on former Bills quarterback AJ McCarron, making him one of the most experienced NFL players to start a new career in the XFL.

McCarron Jumps to New League

The 32-year-old McCarron played six seasons in the NFL, including a brief stint in Buffalo in 2018 when the Bills were looking for a veteran hand to guide rookie Josh Allen. His most recent action came in the 2020 season, when he appeared in two games for the Houston Texans and attempted just one pass, a 20-yard completion.

As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted, McCarron had a recent bid for an NFL comeback before joining the XFL.

“McCarron worked out for the Giants last month but has apparently decided his best chance of earning another NFL paycheck is in the XFL,” Smith wrote. “His NFL career is best remembered for the Browns agreeing to trade second- and third-round picks to the Bengals for him, only for the paperwork to get filed after the NFL trade deadline, canceling the trade.”

The Battlehawks seemed eager to grab McCarron for the veteran leadership he can provide.

“A.J. brings us a championship pedigree,” said Battlehawks head coach Anthony Becht. “He has seven years of NFL experience as a starting and backup quarterback. Unfortunately, A.J. battled through several injuries during that time which limited him from playing additional games. I feel like his time is now. A.J. will bring a very high football IQ, great leadership qualities, and invaluable experience to the St. Louis Battlehawks team.”

The XFL, which originally launched in 2001 as a venture of WWE head Vince McMahon, rebooted in 2020 but was stopped short by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now slated to return for a third time, with a season starting in 2023.

McCarron’s Played Important Role With Bills

The Bills had signed McCarron in March 2018 after they traded quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns. The Bills then traded up the NFL Draft board to grab Allen, and went into training camp with an open competition for the starting job.

The Bills ended up naming Nathan Peterman as their starter and traded McCarron to the then-Oakland Raiders before the season started. It was a move that ended up backfiring, as Peterman was pulled after one disastrous start and Allen got an earlier start to his career than many expected.

The Bills ended up releasing Peterman in November of that season, bringing in veterans Derek Anderson and Matt Barkley to serve as mentors for Allen while he was recovering from an elbow injury. Allen returned to action and showed some marked improvement by the end of the season, earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in a season-ending win over the Miami Dolphins.

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