The Friday afternoon NFL news dump is happening a day early. Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended 10 games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to Adam Schefter and Todd Archer of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
The 10-game ban indicates that McClain has entered stage three of the league’s substance policy for marijuana. McClain missed the first four games of last season while on suspension, so the penalties will keep increasing as McClain continues to fail drug tests. The 26-year-old McClain has dealt with plenty of off-the-field question marks throughout his career, and his free agency earnings have thus been relatively modest. Still, he’s now set to lose about $2.35MM as a result of this latest ban.
In 2015, McClain graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 28 linebacker (subscription required). In his suspension-shortened season, McClain recorded 80 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 pass deflections. The former first-round pick had been sitting out Dallas’ team activities while reportedly dealing with a family issue, an occurrence that had apparently caused a minor dispute between owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett.
McClain is the third Cowboys defender to face a multi-game ban for 2016, as defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are scheduled to miss the first four games of the year with their own suspensions — in fact, Archer reports that Lawrence’s appeal has been denied, ensuring that he will in fact be suspended. I recently listed Dallas as a potential landing spot for veteran edge rusher Dwight Freeney, and though he wouldn’t be directly replacing McClain, Freeney could help a Cowboys defense that is now in dire need of talent.
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