The Cowboys solved their middle linebacker problem with a guy who’s been a problem.
Free agent Rolando McClain agreed on a one-year, $5 million contract Wednesday, ensuring he’ll be the man in the middle of the defense for the third consecutive season. When McClain is good, he can be great. But he can also be bad.
Coaches admit he’s not a good practice player and his attention to detail in the film room isn’t the highest on the team.
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Last summer he stubbornly refused to rehab at Valley Ranch after off-season knee surgery, missing all of OTAs and minicamp instead staying at his home in Alabama. And last year, of course, he missed the first four games after being suspended by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.
There is baggage. But there is also, for the most part, solid, sometimes stellar play on the field.
For critics who claim owner Jerry Jones always swings and misses on reclamation projects, McClain — so far — has to be considered a success.
He was retired and seemingly done with football after several run-ins at Oakland when Jones talked him into a contract in 2014. But that season he was one of the team’s best players during the 12-4 year. And last year he was good, though not great playing alongside Sean Lee. He didn’t make as many impact plays as in ’14, but did have an interception for a touchdown against the Dolphins.
This year the Cowboys will, for the first time, get a full offseason out of McClain. They’re apparently comfortable with being a tad uncomfortable with their middle linebacker.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.