The Cowboys believe Rolando McClain can revive his career and become the player the Raiders thought they were drafting in 2010. That’s why they traded for him, even though he hasn’t played since 2012, and why he remains on the roster despite facing a trial date Friday.
“We felt like with his ability, with the kind of person he’s demonstrated himself to be in the past, maybe we can help him through some of these issues he has and get this guy back playing at the level we all thought he was capable of playing,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s still 24, 25 years old. I think some of the concerns that he had in retiring and unretiring had to do with family situations, so hopefully he has some of those resolved, and we can help him through some of those things and give him a chance. The deal we made with Baltimore was not one that was with a tremendous amount of risk. Obviously, with Sean Lee’s absence, we’re looking for help and competition at the linebacker position. We feel like we have a lot of guys in-house. We always look at the landscape of personnel around the league, who we can bring in to help. We felt like he was a guy who was a very viable candidate. Really excited to see him play.”
McClain arrived with the Cowboys on the team charter Tuesday. He will practice Thursday, Garrett said, before returning to Alabama. A judge denied a motion to delay McClain’s trial on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
McClain, who turned 25 this month, has not played since 2012. He twice has retired since the Raiders made him the eighth overall pick in 2010.
“I have a known a lot of people, a lot of successful people, that quit and then got it together and turned it around and came back and really made something of what they quit actually,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. I’ve seen it happen several times in sports. Certainly, I have seen it happen in short periods of time with frustration. I have a little empathy. He’s got a very plausible experience as to what has impacted him off the field. We all say that you’ve got to be a pro and work through that stuff. I, too, have seen first-hand people that have worked through things better than others. If you get behind them, they can go on to very productive. So based upon his background, his story, based upon the nature of why he’s here – his health, which is good—all those things, in my mind, he’s a great opportunity for our team. And the character issue is far from the nature you so often have to evaluate with some players.”
McClain will compete with several other players, including Justin Durant, DeVonte Holloman and Anthony Hitchens, to replace Sean Lee at middle linebacker. Lee tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in an off-season practice.