Rolando McClain Suspension Confirms Dallas Cowboys Fans Worst Fears


On Thursday, the NFL announced a four-game suspension for Dallas Cowboys starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain for violating it’s substance abuse policy. The news was no surprise for some fans as McClain’s troubled past suggested problems could arise during his tenure in Dallas.

As a result of this news, McClain is now scheduled to miss the first four games of the regular season, delaying his debut until the Week Five matchup against the New England Patriots in Arlington. The mercurial linebacker, who turns 26 this month, is still eligible to participate in training camp activities and during preseason games.

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This news comes on the heels of knee surgery for McClain, which he had in late May. Fortunately, Rolando was able to participate in mini-camp on a limited basis last month and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.

Drafted eighth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, McClain spent his first three seasons in the league with the Oakland Raiders. The former Alabama linebacker’s failure to live up to his draft hype caused him to be ousted from Oakland after the 2012 season.

McClain was then picked up by the Baltimore Ravens. But the young player opted to retire and never played a snap for the Ravens. After sitting out a year to work on his personal life, which included dealing with three arrests in a two-year span, McClain was acquired by the Cowboys last July via a trade with Baltimore.

The trade paid off in immediate dividends for Dallas last year as McClain’s surprising play had him as the early favorite for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. But injuries and his lack of conditioning caught up with the fourth-year linebacker towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.

McClain recorded 81 total tackles, two interceptions and 1.0 sacks for Dallas in 2014. His stellar play help the Cowboys post a 12-4 regular season record, an undefeated road record and the team’s first playoff victory since 2009.

A free agent this offseason, the Cowboys elected to sign McClain to a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $3 million. But the contract is heavily incentive based,  with a base salary of only $750,000. This four-game suspension is expected to cost McClain approximately $375,000. It will also make it more difficult for him to reach certain performance based bonuses as well.

Earlier this offseason it was revealed McClain would receive a four-game fine from the NFL for his third failed drug test. The announcement of this four-game suspension on Thursday means the young linebacker has allegedly failed a fourth test.

The Cowboys are wisely well-prepared to handle this suspension. So far this offseason, they have signed veteran linebackers Keith Rivers, Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar in free agency. And the team drafted linebackers Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeocha in May.

Dallas will also have former starting linebacker Sean Lee returning from a season-ending knee injury this year. Although Lee was expect to move to the weakside position, that transition could be delayed following this latest news. Second-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens and veteran Kyle Wilber are both expected to contribute heavily in McClain’s absence.

Skeptical Cowboys fans were happily proven wrong last season when McClain performed well on and off-the-field in Dallas. Following a rocky offseason, those fans could ultimately be proven right if the young linebacker doesn’t quickly learn from his mistakes. Luckily for Dallas, his one-year deal and the team’s log jam at the linebacker position means they can pull the chute on McClain anytime they wish.

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