Ex-Bills QB Who Once Competed With Josh Allen Returns to UFL After MVP Season

AJ McCarron

Getty AJ McCarron in 2018.

Former Buffalo Bills quarterback A.J. McCarron found a home in the XFL last season, earning MVP honors while leading the league in several passing categories.

The former Alabama quarterback is now returning to spring football, signing a deal to return to the St. Louis Battlehawks of the newly merged United Football League. McCarron originally joined the XFL saying he wanted to show his boys that he had what it takes to be a starting quarterback, and ended up as one of the league’s best players.

A.J. McCarron’s Career Continues

The 33-year-old quarterback entered the NFL with some hype after leading Alabama to back-to-back national titles, but struggled to find his footing. After spending several seasons as a backup with the Cincinnati Bengals, he bounced around the NFL and had a short stint with the Bills during the 2018 preseason.

McCarron originally competed with rookie Josh Allen for the starting job, but was traded to the Oakland Raiders after he suffered a shoulder injury and Nathan Peterman won the job. Peterman didn’t last long, being benched for Allen two games into the season.

After suffering a season-ending ACL tear prior to the 2021 NFL season, McCarron signed with the Battlehawks for 2023 and led the XFL in several statistical categories. He completed 68.8% of his passes, throwing for 2,150 yards with a league-leading 24 touchdowns in nine games.

McCarron took part in one of the league’s most memorable games, throwing six touchdowns and 420 yards in the team’s April 22 season finale. He was later named league MVP by XFL News Hub, one of the only news outlets to exclusively cover the league.

A.J. McCarron: ‘I’m Not Done Playing’

Facing an uncertain outlook in his NFL career after the 2021 injury, McCarron said he wanted a chance for his three young sons to watch him start. That led him to take a chance on the XFL, where he won the starting job for the Battlehawks.

“The decision for me was: Do I wait around and join somebody’s team in the NFL late, try to do these workouts and fly here and fly there or do I just want to go play?” McCarron said in a 2023 interview with Al.com. “Listen, I’ve made enough money in my career. I don’t live a crazy lifestyle, and I have everything that I’ve ever wanted. For me, it’s back to just playing. I love to play. I love to help lead a team and lead a group of guys to try to achieve greatness, and that’s the biggest thing for me.”

McCarron often brought his sons on the field following games, and said he enjoyed the chance to give them a glimpse of his football skills.

“I think I’ve shown that I can play at a high level and play on a consistent level, too. It’s been awesome to have my kids be a part of this,” McCarron said after the conclusion of last season, adding that he would be open to more NFL opportunities if they arose.

McCarron spent some time with the Cincinnati Bengals, but was released on February 14 and decided to return to the Battlehawks.

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