Raiders dump headache linebacker Rolando McClain
The lack of impact - along with off-field issues and hotheaded tendencies that led to a suspension in 2012 - has given general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders' front office no choice but to release McClain. Adam Schefter reported the move Friday via Twitter. The Raiders gave McClain's agent permission to seek a trade a few weeks ago, but there were no interested teams, as expected.
McClain was owed salaries of $4.0 and $5.8 million over the next two seasons, which is too much to pay for a mediocre player who has caused several headaches in the past. That salary is also likely to result in McClain easily clearing waivers and hitting the open market.
Once on the market, McClain should draw some legitimate interest as a two-down, run-stuffing linebacker. While he has always been a liability in pass coverage, there is little question that McClain has the ability to blow up running plays at a high level. After the Raiders' Week 1 game against the Chargers last season, Pro Football Focus wrote that McClain "had perhaps the most dominant performance against the run of any linebacker" that week. After watching tape of McClain, Matt Miller - the NFL lead writer at Bleacher Report - called him a "very good tackler between the hashes."
McClain's biggest problem is his speed and range (very uncharacteristic of an Al Davis draft pick), which would make him a better fit in a 3-4 defense.
From a talent standpoint, I'd expect teams to be very interested in picking up a proficient linebacker on the cheap. The Browns have been mentioned as a possible destination, as general manager Mike Lombardi was a fan of McClain when he was drafted, and the Browns could use an upgrade at one of their middle linebacker spots. However, McClain's run-ins with the law are going to be a major red flag for interested clubs. I'll go over a few of them real quick:
- Gunshots were fired at a car being driven by McClain in 2011. That may not be directly his fault, but you have to figure he's hanging around with the wrong people.
- Later that year, McClain allegedly held a gun to a man's head execution style and fired a round past his ear.
- After being pulled over for a casual window tint violation in 2013, McClain decided to cause more trouble by signing his citation "F*** ya'll." When asked to sign his real name, McClain responded, "That is my name." He was arrested for giving a false name to law enforcement.
These are the types of actions that will prevent a good chunk of NFL from even considering a player. Even so, I expect McClain's strengths against the run to get someone to take a risk and sign him.