One of the biggest training camp battles in the NFL is taking place right now in Oxnard, California as the Dallas Cowboys try to determine which player will take the place of injured middle linebacker Sean Lee. There are several applicants up for the open position. Linebackers DeVonte Holloman, Justin Durant and rookie Anthony Hitchens all appear to be in the running. But it’s the Cowboys newest linebacker that has one NFL Network analyst livid.
The Cowboys traded for former first round pick Rolando McClain (8th overall, 2010) earlier this month. But according to Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager for the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans, the McClain trade is a giant waste of time. Casserly didn’t mince words during his segment on training camp battles for the NFL Network recently.
“Let me say this. I would never have taken (McClain) with the eighth pick in the draft. I think this guy is not good enough. I don’t think he’s physical enough. I don’t think his instincts are good. I don’t think he can cover; I don’t think he can play. To me, it was a trade that is a waste of time. They were hoping, I guess, to get a big guy in the middle because Durant and Holloman aren’t that kind of a guy. Hey, I’m going to go see them in 10 days. I hope he’s not there to waste my time with him.”
Strong words by Casserly. And he could very well be right. News emerged earlier this week that the Cowboys did not even try out McClain before signing him. That’s a strange approach considering McClain has been out of football for over a year and a half. And that he couldn’t even finish the Baltimore Raven’s conditioning test just three months ago when he first came out of retirement. Red flag.
But the deal the Cowboys struck with the Ravens is so sweet, it’s hard to fault Dallas for not kicking the tires on McClain. If he plays 50% of the defensive snaps with the Cowboys this season, Baltimore gets Dallas’ sixth-round pick in next year’s draft. There is also the possibility the Cowboys could also get a seventh round pick in 2016 from the Ravens, but only if they decide to keep McClain on the 53-man roster for five games and depending upon both team’s win/loss record this season. Another scenario has the team’s swapping seventh round picks in 2016.
McClain’s contract is a one-year deal for $700,000 in which he received no guaranteed money. So if the Cowboys decide to cut McClain before they name their final roster after their last preseason game, they basically lose nothing.