Could Rolando McClain be the heir to Ray Lewis?

4/10/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Ever since Ray Lewis announced his retirement during the 2012 season, we all knew that the Baltimore Ravens would have a massive hole to fill in the middle of their defense. They hoped the man to fill that hole would be Dannell Ellerbe, but the cap-strapped Ravens lost him to the Dolphins in free agency. With just $4.1 million in cap space as of April 10th, the Ravens will be looking for a cheap option to give their middle linebacker group a needed boost.
Blog Photo - Could Rolando McClain be the heir to Ray Lewis?
One cheap linebacker who is reportedly a very possible for option for the Ravens is former 8th overall pick Rolando McClain. Released by the Raiders less than a week ago, McClain was expected to draw limited interest due to his history of off-field issues. There are plenty of teams, however, with a need for able run defenders, and McClain is just that.

If signed by the Ravens, McClain would have a strong shot at a starting middle linebacker role, as Albert McClellan - who played mostly at outside linebacker in 2012 - is currently a frontrunner to start at one of the two middle linebacker positions in the Ravens' 3-4 defense. If McClain were to start, he would likely hit the sidelines on passing downs, as he has always struggled in coverage.

The Ravens' offer to McClain would reportedly be a very small investment on their part. Basically, McClain would have an extremely short leash, and if the Ravens felt that he was taking any sort of halfhearted approach to the game, they'd kick him to the curb.

What is interesting about McClain potentially replacing the great Ray Lewis in the Ravens' defense is that Lewis, like McClain, struggled with off-field issues early on in his career. Lewis was thought of as a criminal by many fans after being indicted on murder charges in 2000. However, he was able to put the messy murder trial behind him, and he went on to become one of the greatest leaders - both on and off the field - that the game has ever seen. Lewis certainly had a better start to his career than McClain, but the Ravens will hope that McClain can go through a similar transformation and commit himself to football.

The only other team McClain has been connected to are the Bengals, whose interest has been described as "cursory mulling." If the Ravens want to sign McClain to a low-risk deal, it doesn't seem like they'll have much competition from other clubs.

UPDATE: The Ravens have signed Rolando McClain to a one-year, $700,000 contract. Looks like a solid, low-risk signing for the Ravens and will provide McClain an opportunity to prove that he can be an effective player.
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