Just as Boise State appears to be a college farms system for the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders have been the team’s pro version as many former Raiders players somehow find their way on the Cowboys’ roster. Over the last five years, the Cowboys have ended up with three of the Raiders’ former first-round draft picks, all of which have been selected within the top eight picks of the draft.
Last year, the team traded for Amari Cooper (fourth overall, 2015) and he had over 1,000 yards receiving with over 70% of it coming in the nine games he played with the Cowboys. In 2015, the Cowboys signed free agent Darren McFadden (fourth overall, 2008) and he had over 1,000 yards rushing despite only starting 10 games that year. And then there was Rolando McClain (eighth overall, 2010), who the team acquired in 2014 for a sixth-round draft pick. He filled in admirable in Sean Lee’s absence and put together two 80+ tackle seasons, with a total of three sacks, and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
While McClain proved to be a nice pickup, he wasn’t able to hold down a job in the NFL after the league suspended him indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Despite being out of action these last few seasons, the former Alabama star linebacker has stated he would like to make a comeback.
“I’m nowhere near satisfied with how my professional career has gone,” McClain said. “That’s for myself. That’s me looking in the mirror and talking to my boys. Nah, that’s not the taste I want to leave in my mouth.”
The Cowboys still own his rights, but would there be anything to gain by seeing him back in a Cowboys uniform? The linebacker group is as stacked as it’s been in a long time thanks to the emergence of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. The team’s former star linebacker Sean Lee is now a SAM linebacker who should only see the field in a reduced role. In a best case scenario, McClain would be fighting for playing time with the reserves and would need to contribute on special teams to justify keeping a roster spot.
And while the upside is appealing, the downside just isn’t worth it. McClain has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he just can’t stay out of trouble. He’s been arrested for third-degree assault and charged with reckless endangerment and discharging a firearm inside city limits. He’s been arrested for drug charges, and he just does stupid things like giving the police a false name when pulled over.
The Cowboys are no strangers to giving players second chances, but with McClain, he’s already used them up. It’s hard to imagine Jason Garrett taking another chance and allowing a toxic player like McClain into the locker room. We wish him the best, but as far as seeing him in a Cowboys uniform again, that time has passed. Plus, his number is already taken.