"It's not a good situation," Lewis said of the botched trade. "AJ is a very valuable member of this team. I told him as such yesterday. Frankly, I was relieved so I don't have to go through those gymnastics of the next step. He's a great kid. He's a true team player. He's a leader. He's a leader on this football team, and that's why we felt like he is such a valuable asset. [Bengals owner Mike Brown] was very clear about that about how we felt about him."
McCarron, who has backed up Andy Dalton since 2014, said that he spoke to Lewis on Tuesday after everything had happened.
"My agent thought it was a done deal, "McCarron said. "All I know is what I was told and paperwork got turned in a little too late and that's why I didn't go to them ...
"I talked to Marvin for a little bit yesterday. He told me he was still glad to have me here. Today I'm going to thank Mr. Brown personally just because I admire that he was just going to give me the opportunity to go start and play somewhere. I appreciate that of him."
The Browns offered the Bengals a second and third-round pick in 2018 in exchange for McCarron, but did not notify the league before the trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. ET. An appeal to the league to let the trade go through anyway was denied.
"I don't know if I have ever heard of [that happening]," Lewis said. "Obviously on draft day there is a little more urgency because if you don't get it in, the next team could go ahead and jump you ... may take your player if they have an idea that could happen."
"In this case," he said, shaking his head and smiling. "Enough said."
Lewis said he doesn't understand what happened, noting that the Bengals spoke to the league when filing their own paperwork.
"All you have to do is notify the league office you are making a deal. That's an easy thing," Lewis said. "We spoke to a person in there."