First off, it is a cheap acquisition. The terms are a bit confusing, but depending on how much he plays, the most the Cowboys would give up is a sixth-round pick. The Cowboys also get the Ravens seventh-round pick if he does well here. If he doesn’t spend quality time on either the 53-man roster or the 46-game day roster, the Ravens would get no compensation. Also, the deal is slated for one-year and is not guaranteed. It is basically getting a player for free and not being liable for any damage done.
Another reason this move is smart is because they really need the help at linebacker since Sean Lee was ruled out for the 2014 season. McClain can help be another guy to help compete for the starting middle linebacker position, along with linebackers Justin Durant, DeVonte Holloman, and rookie Anthony Hitchens. They need all the help they can get and this guy could very well turn out to be a good player for the Cowboys down the stretch. You can never say no to more players, especially since they cost practically nothing.
So while others criticize the move, I think it is another brilliant find by Cowboys personnel man Will McClay and the Cowboys front-office. They are truly always on the lookout for players that can come in and help the team; even if they have been out of football for awhile. You saw how well McClay found all those spare players that contributed last season to the defense. This is what former Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells did all the time; churning the roster at all times was a theme for his teams. There isn’t anything about this situation that makes it any different.
McClain is a low-risk, high reward player that still has the qualities you want. He is young, athletic, and has kept his body in shape while he was gone. The only thing to worry about is his mental attitude towards the game. Once you decide to retire, it is rare that you can come back and have that enthusiasm to play. This guy did it twice, so it might take some work to get his mind right, but hey it won’t cost you anything. Create some competition at camp, get this kid excited about playing football and just throw him out there. He might just turn heads and transform into a really good football player.
So don’t be like the cynical media outlets and just sit back and enjoy this process. The Cowboys are finally making the right moves.