Rolando McClain Still Being Strung Along by Oakland Raiders

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 4, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gets dragged down by Rolando McClain #55 of the Oakland Raiders during the third quarter of their NFL football game at Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Buccaneers won the game 42-32. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Everyone knows the story by now.  Rolando McClain was expected to be the centerpiece of a revamped Raiders defense when he was selected eighth overall in the 2010 NFL draft.

He was a centerpiece alright; the centerpiece of the Raiders defense that continued to be below average at best.

McClain's career took a further dive as he got into an argument with Dennis Allen and was kicked out of practice and later suspended for two games by the team.

Then the situation with McClain went from bad to odd.  After speculation that he would be cut by the team, along with fellow linebacker Aaron Curry, McClain was not only reinstated after his suspension, but reported to the team and was at practices despite his famous Facebook rant about being done in Oakland.

McClain never saw the field again on a game day (he wasn't even on the active roster) and was even demoted so far down the depth chart that he was the scout team running back while journeyman free agent Omar Gaither took over at middle linebacker for the rest of the season.

Now the 2012 season is over for the Raiders, and yet McClain is still on the team despite all the aforementioned events.  

Did McClain do enough, by returning to the team after his suspension to finish the season, that Allen and Reggie McKenzie are giving him a clean slate?

I don't think so.

It's more likely that the Raiders still have McClain on the roster as insurance in case they can't re-sign Philip Wheeler or can't get a better middle linebacker than McClain in free agency or the draft.

Given that the defense looked better later in the season, without McClain, I'd say that the Raiders are better off already with Gaither.  McClain should be the next player cut.

It's also possible that the Raiders are seeking a trade for McClain.  McClain was a great middle linebacker in college at Alabama where he was in a 3-4 defense formation.  Maybe the Raiders want to get back into the fifth round of the draft after trading their pick away for Aaron Curry.  Some team out there may think McClain is worth a fifth-round pick.

One thing is clear: McClain is paid too much and does too little to be a Raider in 2013.