7:10pm: Rolando McClain’s visit with the Patriots ended without a contract, though his meeting with them was a positive one, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The incumbent Cowboys, meanwhile, are still very much in the mix.
1:30pm: As they consider potential linebacker options, the Patriots are hosting linebacker Rolando McClain for a visit today, according to a report from Field Yates and Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It appears to be the first visit McClain has taken as a free agent this month.
McClain, 25, racked up 87 tackles and a sack to go along with two interceptions in 13 games for the Cowboys in 2014. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked McClain eighth out of 60 qualified inside linebackers, and he excelled in every aspect of the game — PFF’s grades placed him eighth as a pass rusher, seventh as a cover man, and 11th as a run defender, among inside linebackers.
Despite his impressive on-field showing, McClain still has some off-field question marks. He came back from retirement less than a year ago, and has failed multiple drug tests, making him a potential suspension risk. When I examined his free agent stock last week, I speculated that he may have to settle for a one-year, prove-it deal.
Although I didn’t name the Patriots as an ideal fit for McClain, their interest makes sense — Jerod Mayo is coming off a torn patellar tendon, and Dont’a Hightower is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, so it’s important that the team has some depth at the linebacker position.
Still, the Pats aren’t the only club with interest in McClain. Ed Werder of ESPN.com tweets that the Cowboys have remained in active negotiations with the linebacker, so his trip to New England could create some urgency on Dallas’ part.