Will A.J. McCarron return to the St. Louis Battlehawks in 2024?

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ST. LOUIS – Some familiar faces are sticking with the St. Louis Battlehawks through the UFL merger. It remains to be seen if one of last year’s leaders, quarterback A.J. McCarron, will return for another spring football season in St. Louis.

McCarron, a former Alabama star and Hesiman Trophy runner-up, started nine games for the Battlehawks during last year’s XFL reboot. At 32 years old and nearly a decade removed from his college football surge, he led the XFL with 24 touchdowns and a 108.4 QB rating, also finishing second with 2,150 passing yards.

The strong year followed some tough luck in the NFL, where McCarron spent parts of six seasons in limited roles with three teams.

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That said, McCarron’s XFL campaign paved the way to a one-year contract with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals after franchise leader Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury. He saw limited action in two games, but working his way back into NFL action after three years out of the league is a huge accomplishment.

McCarron, set to become an unrestricted free agent after the Super Bowl, has a decision to make soon. Will he keep pushing for opportunities in the game’s biggest stage or attempt to build his case once more through spring football?

On Wednesday, McCarron told Bleav Network podcast host Matty Fresh that there’s only one path for anything other than the NFL. His response: “I absolutely love St. Louis. There’s only one team I would come back and play for. This year, it would be St. Louis.”

McCarron also said he was discussing his football future with his agent and family, but he hoped to make a decision “within the next couple of days.” Getting somewhat close to that territory, it doesn’t appear there have been any major developments in McCarron’s decision just yet.

The Battlehawks teased a possible season schedule release in a matter of days. If McCarron does not return for 2024, the team will likely roll with Nick Tiano or Manny Wilkins as a starter his year.

St. Louis head coach Anthony Becht told FOX 2 in a one-on-one interview last month (attached above) that he would welcome the return of any players wanting another opportunity with the Battlehawks, including McCarron. He also feels confident in his current quarterback situation and understands how his squad aims to give players more opportunities at the NFL level.

“The goal every year is to try to get those players that are hungry,” said Becht. “They want to play in St. Louis. They want to be a part of this league, and they embrace the league. And they also have other things on their plate. They have other things they’re trying to accomplish in their careers to help them move forward and potentially make it to the NFL. If that’s their goal, it’s really rewarding for me and my staff. I’m really proud of that.”

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As for those coming back, most notably wide receiver Hakeem Butler and experienced lineman Steven Gonzalez, Becht says it adds to the excitement of another Battlehawks season.

“We’re happy to have some of those guys back,” said Becht. “We’re also happy for those who have moved forward, signed contracts, and made a good living for themselves because of the opportunity they got. We’re going to try and do this for the upcoming year with some of these new players and players that are coming back.”

McCarron, still taking time to make a decision, won national college football titles with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2012 and 2013, his sophomore and junior seasons. He is the program’s all-time leader in passing yards (9,019) and second in passing touchdowns (77).

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