After announcing earlier today that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson would be suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, the NFL has announced another four-game ban. According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
McClain, who re-signed with the Cowboys on a one-year deal in April, was facing a third failed drug test earlier in the year. That third failed test called for only a fine, but as we noted at the time, a fourth would result in a four-game suspension, so it appears McClain failed another test since then.
“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake,” McClain said in a statement released through the NFLPA. “I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on Week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.”
McClain, who turns 26 later in July, 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.
Still, as I noted when I examined his free agent stock in March, McClain has plenty of off-field question marks, as this suspension shows. Those red flags resulted in a fairly modest deal for the linebacker in free agency, and now he’ll forfeit some of his $750K base salary for 2015 and will likely have to return a portion of his $500K signing bonus. McClain will also miss out on some of his per-game roster bonuses while he sits out the first four weeks, and will be hard-pressed to earn any of his playing-time incentives.