The Dallas Cowboys have had a solid offseason in my opinion. From their draft to their decision to cut loose aging veterans like defensive end DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, I believe they are making smarter decisions than they have in the past. Say what you will about head coach Jason Garrett, but he has his imprint on this roster and is acquiring younger, hungrier, and ‘good character’ type players.
That makes their decision to trade for troubled linebacker Rolando McClain that much more completing. Although only 24 years of age, McClain comes with quite a bit of baggage. Multiple off field issues which led to arrests prompted the Oakland Raiders to cut him in 2013. Let me repeat that! The Oakland Raiders cut a player for off the field incidents!
So why would the Cowboys take a chance on a troubled player? It reminds me if the days when they were signing players like cornerback Pacman Jones, defensive tackle Tank Johnson, and wide receiver Terrell Owens. All talented players who carried with them some off the field luggage. The difference with McClain is he isn’t a top tier player at his position like some of the other players mentioned.
At the University of Alabama McClain was a stud. So much so the Raiders used the 8th overall pick to draft him. His college success has not translated to the NFL level. I understand the Cowboys gave up very little but I wonder if it is worth the chance.
If McClain had a huge upside I would certainly understand the decision to trade for him. However, I don’t see his skill set as one that warrants taking a gamble on him. He is a big, powerful linebacker who lacks top level speed. This lack of speed makes his coverage skills average at best. We all know how important it is to have linebackers who are adept in coverage in a Cover 2 zone defense like the Cowboys run.
A lot of people within the organization are viewing this as a low-risk, high reward deal. I understand the low-risk aspect of the trade. It is the high reward part that I question. McClain has not proven he can play at a high level in this league. With all the young players on this team, I worry about him potentially having a negative impact in the locker room. Let’s hope Garrett has acquired enough ‘good character’ guys to keep McClain in check.