This year's quarterback market is driving the offseason intrigue.
That's not to say McCarron will come cheaply.
"He plays a very valuable position: backup quarterback," Tobin explained. "And you're always one play away from going to your backup quarterback. We view our team as a team that can challenge. Whether that's universal or not, we view our team as a team that is in the mix to challenge.
"And if you don't have a viable No. 2 quarterback that you can go to and win with, you can tank your entire season. So he's a very valuable piece of what we do. If somebody wants to call and talk to us, call and talk to us. But they're going to find out that we value AJ McCarron quite a bit."
Cincinnati's approach is similar to New England's. While it's tempting to stockpile future assets, the draft picks those organizations would receive as compensation in a hypothetical trade must bring more value than their premium quarterback insurance.