BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are expected to draft a quarterback next month, but they may have found Tom Brady’s primary backup in free agency.

According to WEEI’s Kirk Minihane, the Patriots made a contract offer to former Cincinnati Bengals backup A.J. McCarron.

The 27-year-old won a grievance against the Bengals in February and will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league season officially starts at 4pm on Wednesday.

After winning back-to-back national championships at Alabama, McCarron was a fifth-round pick by the Bengals in 2014. He backed up Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, starting three games in his four seasons with the Bengals. McCarron completed 65 percent of his passes for 920 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He started one playoff game in place of an injured Dalton in 2015, completing 21 of his 41 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown and an interception in Cincinnati’s 18-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round.

The Patriots currently have veteran Brian Hoyer as Brady’s backup, and signed him to a three-year deal last season after trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. But the team could cut Hoyer if they opt to go with McCarron as a younger option behind Brady, and still draft a quarterback for the future in April’s NFL Draft.

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