The Dallas Cowboys have a problem on defense in 2016. When they open the 2016 NFL season, the Cowboys will be without three starters on defense. They will be missing both starting defensive ends in Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence and they will be without their middle linebacker in Rolando McClain. The suspension to Gregory is disturbing, and the one for Lawrence is disappointing, but the one for McClain should be unforgivable.
The Dallas Cowboys’ official website reported that the NFL has declined Lawrence’s appeal and has handed down a 10-game suspension for McClain. Here is the biggest problem with Rolando McClain’s suspension: it is his second drug-related suspension in the last two seasons. While the Dallas Cowboys need all the help they can get on defense, Rolando McClain has proven that he has no cares whatsoever about keeping his nose clean.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Rolando McClain in 2014. It was a very risky move, but they got him for a team friendly deal to help replace the injured Sean Lee. McClain had gotten in all kinds of trouble when he played for the Oakland Raiders and chose to retire at the age of 23 rather than play for the Baltimore Ravens when traded to them. He paid off well, with 12 starts, one sack, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and 81 tackles.
The Cowboys signed him to a one-year deal in 2015, but then McClain failed the NFL drug tests, and the league suspended McClain for four games. He also had knee surgery and wasn’t even ready to start the season, even without his suspension. He returned, started in 12 games, and finished third on the team with 97 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. It is clear that, even with his missed time in the NFL, he was still a quality middle linebacker.
However, this is not about being a quality player, it is about being a quality and reliable person. Rolando McClain apologized for failing the drug test in 2015, manned up to his mistake, and said he was ready to move forward from it. Then, one year later, McClain failed his second test in two years. That doesn’t sound like someone who feels bad for his mistakes and instead sounds like someone who doesn’t care if his actions hurt the Dallas Cowboys or not.
The deal that Rolando McClain signed this year was another one-year deal worth $4 million. At the time of the signing, it was a great deal with little risk as long as McClain stayed on the field. He will only play in six games this season once he returns from his suspension, not including playoffs, and his absence will make getting to the playoffs even harder. Of the $4 million, only $750,000 is guaranteed, and it might be time for the Dallas Cowboys to make a statement.
In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys opened the season with running back Joseph Randle as the starter and Greg Hardy coming in to be their big defensive end. Hardy was coming off an NFL suspension for domestic violence and was a distraction the entire year, never worth the money they paid him. Randle was coming off a pair of arrests and then ended up being waived midway through the season. Randle is now in jail.
The Dallas Cowboys have developed a reputation of signing and holding onto troubled players. While no one can really compare Rolando McClain to Greg Hardy or Joseph Randle, Rolando is now just as much of a distraction to the team. Rolando McClain has cost the Dallas Cowboys a key defensive star in 2016 for 10 games and isn’t worth keeping around anymore. It is time to cut Rolando and move on.
[Photo by Gus Ruelas/AP Images]