No Rolando McClain? No Problem For The Dallas Cowboys


Since the Jason Garrett era began in Dallas when he took over as head coach in November of 2010, the Dallas Cowboys have been a lot smarter handing out contracts and going through this process of his. That is exactly how they have handled linebacker Rolando McClain to this point, giving him a pay to play, a low risk/high reward sort of contract.

The Cowboys knew what they were getting when they signed McClain. And who was he? Rolando is a player who has already retired twice by the age of twenty five, played for three different franchises in four years (although he never took a snap for the Baltimore Ravens), and someone who has been arrested three times in less than a two year span.

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McClain led the team in tackles last year with 88. He also had two interceptions and one sack.  And the defense was just better as a whole when he was on the field.

It felt like the fifth-year veteran had finally found his place both on and off-the-field. But just last week, the NFL announced that McClain would be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

After the suspension, McClain made this statement:

"“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake, I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.”"

This suspension didn’t appear to be a huge surprise for the Cowboys organization as the team seems well-prepared for something like this.

After losing linebackers Bruce Carter and Justin Durant in free agency this offseason, the Cowboys brought in veterans Jasper Brinkley, Andrew Gachkar, and Keith Rivers to help fill their void on the roster. They also drafted linebackers Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeohca in May.

Consequently, I believe Wilson could have a similar, solid rookie season like that of former 2014 fourth round selection Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens ability to play every linebacker position helped revitalize the Cowboys defense by recording 75 total tackles and an interception in 2014.

Brinkley, who has some experience as a pure middle linebacker while a member of the Minnesota Vikings, could get the nod at the starting position Week One with the suspension of McClain. If not, it will most likely be Hitchens, who looked like a veteran out there last year in just his rookie season. So, the Cowboys ultimately have a lot of choices and versatility at the position.

McClain was a big part of the defense last year, no doubt about it. Whether the Cowboys keep him or not after this season is yet to be determined. As mentioned before, McClain’s first game back will be Week Five against the New England Patriots. One can only hope he will be fully healthy by that time and that he can return to last season’s form.

McClain was actually part of the reason former middle linebacker Sean Lee, arguably the defense’s best player, will be transitioning to the weak-side this year. Having Lee in this new position will allow him to be more of a run and hit kind of player behind the three technique, which is exactly what he is.

Hopefully Lee returns fully healthy as well, following a season-ending knee injury he suffered last May. It’s no new position for him either, he has played a little bit on the weak side before coach Rod Marinelli took over as the team’s defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys have solid linebacker depth for the first time in years. And fans shouldn’t be worried about the McClain suspension or anything else for that matter going into the season.

Next: How The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Will Look In September