The world loves second chances. Apparently, so do the Dallas Cowboys as they’ve been handing them out like Halloween candy. On Wednesday, they continued their righteous crusade by announcing the re-signing of middle linebacker Rolando McClain to a one-year, $3 million deal with the potential for another $1 million through incentives.
Although McClain certainly helped the Cowboys last season, extending him after the red flags of this offseason could end up blowing up in Dallas’ faces.
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Prior to last season, McClain spent nearly two years away from the game of football. He initially retired to sort out his off-the-field issues, namely three arrests between December of 2011 and April of 2013. After a failed workout with the Baltimore Ravens last offseason, McClain retired for the second time.
It took a personal phone call from Cowboys’ owner and general manager Jerry Jones to get McClain to come back to the NFL. And that comeback was a resounding success, as he recorded 81 total tackles, two interceptions and a sack in 13 games for Dallas.
But injuries and inconsistency hurt McClain’s performance in the latter half of the season, most likely costing him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. This offseason, many fans were hoping the Cowboys would make re-signing the 25-year old linebacker a top priority.
But then there came troubling news about McClain’s six-bedroom home in Alabama that burned down in late December. In February, investigators determined that the cause of that fire was arson.
McClain had been trying to sell the house at the time of the fire. It was insured for $1.5 million. The case is currently inactive but since there is no statute of limitations for arson in Alabama, the case will remain open until it is solved.
In late February, the NFL announced McClain was facing a four-game fine for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. This action by the NFL means the troubled linebacker had failed his third drug test. At last word, McClain was appealing the fine. Unfortunately, his next failed test will result in a four-game suspension.
Soon after the free agency market opened, ESPN Dallas’ Jean-Jacques Taylor reported there was a lot of drama surrounding McClain last season.
His troubling past combined with the recent rash of negative headlines, you’d think a player like McClain would just be grateful that any NFL team was interested in him. But apparently, the former first round bust actually wanted more money than the Cowboys were initially willing to give.
Now, following a quick trip to New England to visit with the Patriots, Dallas appears to have caved in to McClain’s demands and has overpaid for the mercurial linebacker. A player who, at any moment, could decide football just isn’t for him anymore.
There is no doubt McClain is a talented player. And I’m fairly excited to see what he can do with a full offseason training program under his belt. But I’m also equally concerned he’s going to screw it up.
Now, I honestly believe Dallas would be better off investing a high draft pick on a young middle linebacker rather rolling the dice with McClain (and his baggage) for another season.
I really do believe in second chances. But failing a third drug test and being a drama queen while doing so is wasting that opportunity. And on a team that currently showcases controversial players like defensive tackle Josh Brent, running back Joseph Randle and defensive end Greg Hardy; there’s a potential powder keg in Dallas.
And if it explodes, it could cost the Cowboys more than just a tainted public image. It could ultimately cost them a Super Bowl run.