Cowboys Conversation: Linebackers – Rolando McClain, and the Actual Solution

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Don and Meredith are longtime friends and lifelong Dallas Cowboys fans whose bond was solidified when swapping stories about growing up in the hostile territory of New Jersey and facing the same while living in New York City the past ten years. More than anything, they love debating everything Dallas Cowboys with each other. Their posts here at the Landry Hat are a running conversation between them about America’s Team.

Meredith: Nearly lost in my twitter feed during the World Cup game yesterday afternoon was some surprising news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

"“Interrupt soccer for this: Dallas traded 6th-rd pick for LB Rolando McClain and Baltimore’s 7th-rd pick, per source. McClain wants to play.”"

Two questions: 1) Does this change anything with regard to the current plans for the Cowboys linebackers? 2) How does he know EVERYTHING all the time?!? He is more powerful than Gossip Girl! (Don’t try to deny it, I know you loved that show.)

Don: In reverse order: 2) I did, which I wish you would stop telling people, and he really does. Except he uses his powers for good. (Mostly). 1) GREAT maybe we can re-sign Dimitrius Underwood next! That worked out well. Or maybe PacMan and Tank Johnson! I jest. This is a really intriguing move — coming out of college, McClain was the middle linebacker everyone had their eye on….

Meredith: New York Giants fans were drooling over the potential he would last until No. 15! (And thank you for being honest about that.)

Don: Right. I wonder what we thought of him coming out of college, if only our draft board would mysteriously leak every year…oh, wait a minute….Yeah, we had him seventh. Anyway, I think this is different than some of the disasters I mentioned for two reasons:

First, we swapped a 6th round pick for a 7th – so it’s basically a free look at a recent top ten pick. Next to nothing to lose here. Similar to what they are doing with former second round running back Ryan Williams and to a lesser likely degree of success, former first round defensive end Amobi Okoye. So this isn’t paying big money/cap space to a troubled, but talented free agent. It’s a free look at an elite talent who will have to motivate if he wants to get paid one day. Why not? Second, and I cringe a little when saying this, but sometimes a gifted, though troubled player just needs a stable situation around him — Randy Moss coming to the Patriots being the premier example.

Meredith: Umm, did you just compare the Cowboys circus to the most well run organization in the league???

Don: You didn’t let me finish! No, of course we are not the Pats and Jerry will always ensure we have some absurdity going on. But I think if you look at the direction executive vice president Stephen Jones, assistant director of player personnel Will McClay, and, most importantly, head coach Jason Garrett — the people who are really running the football side, not Jerry anymore — are taking the team, you’ll see they have systematically cleared out the clowns and the distractions, focused on getting younger and bringing in the aforementioned RKOGs. So I’m seeing real stability developing in the franchise and a professional approach. This isn’t the 2008 melodrama team anymore. I think the new environment can possibly nurture one or two guys like McClain and maybe reinvigorate his career.

Meredith: We haven’t (ever) been afraid of off field issues. Or head cases. Charles Haley and Terry Glenn come to mind immediately. Maybe he just needs the right spot and Garrett’s history with Saban spurred some sort of conversation that made him think he could make it work here. Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport has a great analysis on his value add and summed it up pretty succinctly:

"“…it’s just as likely (if not more so) that McClain won’t do anything, and for that reason the best course of action right now is to take things slowly and temper expectations. Because before we know what Rolando McClain brings to the table in Dallas, we have to make sure he shows up for dinner.”"

Don: One more bonus to signing McClain: maybe it ends speculation about Brian Urlacher, Jonathan Vilma and other old men. The fact that I was still reading about them was incredible. The big names are great click-bait, but that is about it. There is a reason they are not on a team. Please, PLEASE make it stop.

Meredith: I love old guys. Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson and Viggo Mortensen? Amazingly talented. Dreamy too. But on my TV, not my 53-man roster. I’m pretty firm in the belief that you don’t sign a veteran unless you have to; and you only do it late in training camp so you don’t take reps away from the young pups. As you said, Stephen Jones, McClay and Garrett have done a pretty good job turning over the roster and getting younger. The biggest unseen advantage of a younger team? Young players practice. Teams that are able to practice throughout the season get better during the season, particularly on defense. Young legs = a plus in my book any day.

This conversation continues on the following page…