CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - In the NFL, you can't really expect anything until it actually happens. This is a lesson Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron says was reiterated to him this week.
A Bengals spokesperson said Tuesday the team filed all of the paperwork necessary to complete a trade of McCarron to the Cleveland Browns.
The two sides reportedly agreed on a deal to send McCarron to Cleveland in exchange for draft picks just minutes before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline, but the deal was never approved by the NFL because of paperwork.
McCarron said the began like any other Tuesday.
"Came in here, worked out, watched film, did my usual Tuesday deal and went home and was getting ready for Halloween, figuring out how much candy we were going to have," he said.
Then came unexpected news.
"You're sitting there with family getting ready for Halloween and dressing the little man up and you get a call that says you're going somewhere, and you start to try to figure out what's happening," he said. "My agent thought it was a done deal, all I know is what I was told, and the paperwork got turned in a little too late."
The Bengals told FOX19 NOW Tuesday night that the league office received the Bengals' paperwork before the trade deadline, and the league office confirmed they did not hear from the Browns until after the trade deadline.
"I don't know that I've ever heard of one," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "All you have to do is notify the league office that you're making a deal. It's an easy thing. We spoke to the person in there and (told them) our thing is there."
There have been conflicting reports as to who's to blame for the trade falling through. Bengals representatives tell FOX19 NOW they never received any paperwork from the Browns, but completed all necessary work on their end.
McCarron said he likely found out about it when everyone else did.
"My agent said they were writing an appeal for the thing -- on the trade -- that it should be passed," he said. "I got a call later on after that that said it didn't."
McCarron said as a competitor, the opportunity would have been exciting.
"You want to play," he said. "And you want your opportunity."
He said it would have also been nice to reunite with Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who used to be on Cincinnati's coaching staff.
"Reuniting with Hue Jackson would've been really exciting," McCarron said. "It didn't happen."
McCarron appeared emotional Tuesday when asked about the missed opportunity, but said experiences such as this can make you mentally tougher. He said he feels blessed either way, and that there are no hard feelings.
"Either situation, I'm living out my dream playing in the NFL," he said. "And I have a beautiful family, everybody's healthy. So it would've been awesome, but I'm focused on my job here now."
McCarron is the Bengals back-up quarterback to Andy Dalton and is considered the team's best trade commodity. McCarron has played sparingly in four season with the Bengals, filling in as the starting quarterback when Dalton broke his thumb late in the 2015 season.
"It's obviously a crazy situation," said Dalton. "I'm sure there's a lot of emotions that happened for him. He's still part of this team and I know he's going to put in the time and work. He wants to be part of this team, too. The biggest thing, he's in no control. He can't do anything about it. He's handled it the right way."
McCarron said he spoke with Lewis on Tuesday, and Lewis told him he was still glad to have him in Cincinnati.
"It's not a good situation," said Lewis. "A.J. is a very valuable member of this team. I told him yesterday, frankly, I was relieved. So, I don't have to go through the gymnastics of the next steps. He's a true team player and leader on this team. That's why we feel he's a very valuable asset."
McCarron said he admires the Bengals owner for wanting to give him an opportunity to go start and play somewhere.
"I really appreciate that of him," he said.
The Bengals did not execute any trades before Tuesday's deadline.