MONDAY, 8:11pm: McClain’s base salary will be just $750K, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link), who adds that the linebacker can get another $1.5MM via gameday active roster bonuses.
WEDNESDAY, 8:34am: The signing is now official, tweets Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com.
7:42am: After visiting the Patriots earlier this week and receiving a contract offer from New England, linebacker Rolando McClain has instead agreed to re-sign with the Cowboys on a one-year deal, reports Ed Werder of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Werder, it’ll be worth $3MM, with another $1MM available in playing-time incentives.
McClain, 25, recorded 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 the former first-round pick 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 like the ones signed by Nick Fairley and Terrance Knighton. I also noted that returning to Dallas might be the best fit for the veteran linebacker.
That third failed drug test means a four-game fine for McClain, so that penalty figures to come out of his game checks for the upcoming season. The ex-Raider has appealed the fine, but history suggests he doesn’t have a great chance of winning that appeal, barring extenuating circumstances.
The Cowboys’ linebacking corps will look much different in 2015 than it did a year ago, as regular contributors Justin Durant and Bruce Carter have signed elsewhere. McClain will be joined by incoming free agents Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar on the new-look unit. Sean Lee, who missed the 2014 campaign due to a torn ACL, will also be back in the mix.
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