The Cowboys are still contemplating whether to terminate the contract of linebacker Rolando McClain, sources tell Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. McClain will be suspended for the first 10 games of the 2016 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and while members of the Dallas organization would like to see him released, salary cap ramifications have precluded the club from making such a move at this point.
McClain will forfeit 10/17 of his $4MM base salary, roughly $2.35MM, as a result of his NFL-imposed ban, and the Cowboys are also entitled to recoup 10/17 of McClain’s $750K signing bonus, which amounts to ~$441K. In total, if McClain makes it back for the season’s final seven weeks, Dallas will only be on the hook for about $1.209MM. Additionally, under the terms of the contractual bargaining agreement, the Cowboys would not be able to reclaim any of that total if they do choose to cut McClain, according to Williams. “The main thing is strategically, [financially], it’s not good for us and he doesn’t take up an active spot on the roster [during the season],” said owner Jerry Jones of releasing McClain.
And from a purely financial standpoint, Jones is correct — there is no fiscal downside to keeping Jones on the suspended list for the first few months of the season, and because he won’t be a part of the 53-man roster, the Cowboys aren’t playing a man short in order to keep him around. Jones, for his part, is McClain’s “biggest supporter within the organization,” per Williams, as the club’s owner/GM was the primary force in talking McClain out of retirement in 2014.
On the field, Dallas will need to find a replacement for McClain, and the club has reportedly been talking with veteran Justin Durant about a possible reunion. I recently examined a few internal and external options for the Cowboys as they seek to find someone to hold down middle linebacker.
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