The Oakland Raiders have released 2010 first-round draft pick Rolando McClain, a former standout at the University of Alabama. As the first linebacker chosen that year, expectations were certainly high for the former Crimson Tide All-American.
But despite all of the awards and accolades McClain garnered in college, nothing close to those distinctions have carried over to the NFL.
As Dallas transitions back to its original 4-3 scheme under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the linebacker position, specifically the strong-side spot, is a bit of a question mark. Recently signed free-agents Justin Durant and Ernie Sims, a former ninth overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft, appear to be the front-runners to grab the third starting linebacker spot along with incumbents Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. Second-year linebacker Kyle Wilber, out of Wake Forest, will also be in the mix.
But there's no denying the temptation that McClain might bring to Cowboys fans and perhaps the Dallas organization itself. At 6'4'' and almost 260 pounds, the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year is perfectly built physically to play strong-side linebacker in any 4-3 system.
But this is where the intrigue likely stops.
McClain has issues with law enforcement, primarily due to his interest in firearms. In fact, he likes to shoot them in public, to the tune of numerous misdemeanors. McClain has also been charged with assault and had to reach a financial settlement with an alleged victim to avoid significant time in jail last year.
McClain also saw his playing time reduced by head coach Dennis Allen as last season's 4-12 nightmare progressed into midseason. Allen had basically decided to cut McClain well before football stopped for the Silver and Black.
So it's not like McClain is simply a bad dude off the field but outstanding when he is on it.
McClain seems to just be bad all the way around—and not in a good way, obviously.
I don't have to go into detail regarding owner and general manager Jerry Jones' previous attempts to offer second, third or fourth chances to players that simply don't get it and usually have proved never to understand the opportunity given to them. Names like Tank Johnson and Adam Jones should ring an unpleasant bell in your memory, just as recent examples.
McClain is still only 23 years old, meaning that if he grows up soon, there's plenty of football left for him.
But can the Cowboys afford that kind of gamble?
I say definitely not, especially with everything that's on the line this year for Jones' credibility as general manager and also head coach Jason Garrett, who has yet to lead Dallas into the playoffs following two full seasons at the helm.
There are plenty of candidates to fill the depth chart at linebacker in 2013, and this obviously excludes any additional talent that could come in the 2013 NFL draft in just a few weeks.
Rolando McClain in Dallas?