After skipping the voluntary work, Rolando McClain has graced the Cowboys with his presence in the mandatory portion of the offseason.
There have been some mild grumbles heard in and out of Cowboys Nation these past few weeks. Rolando McClain, the expected starting middle linebacker (MIKE), has once again found a way to miss offseason team activities.
This is nothing new for McClain, who has found a way to miss portions of every offseason since becoming a Cowboy in the spring/summer of 2014. Whether it’s delaying a surgery, rehabbing an “injury”, or tending to a family emergency, it’s always been something keeping McClain from being a full-time offseason participant.
And that’s ok.
Note: Forget for a moment that he missed “voluntary” activities. While they are voluntary from a legal and contractual perspective, their attendance is fully expected. Much like Chachkies only requires 14 pieces of flare – more than 14 is fully expected (an unrepentant Office Space reference).
The Dallas Cowboys are simply getting what they paid for with Rolando McClain. More importantly, Rolando McClain is doing what he wants to without overplaying his hand. If McClain were a lesser player, there’s no way he could get away with this. Just like if he skipped too much offseason work (of the mandatory variety), he’d prove to be more trouble than worth.
Rolando McClain correctly appraised his value, and for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys are ok with it because of the contract he’s playing under.
In March, the Cowboys re-signed Rolando McClain to a 1-year/$4M contract. The contract is structured to pay McClain a $125,000 weekly game bonus every game this season. McClain’s total guaranteed money is a meager $750,000 making him an extremely low-risk player (financially speaking, of course).
The Cowboys clearly protected themselves in case the two-time retiree, once suspended, and oft concussed, Rolando McClain, doesn’t pan out. McClain’s play left something to be desired last season as well. He was brilliant in coverage but his shortcomings against the running game were hard to ignore. The Cowboys like what McClain brings to the table but are hesitant to commit to him with so many red-flags waving.
That’s why the Cowboys have been unwilling to offer the 26-year old top-10 pick a multiyear deal the past two seasons. When McClain is on, he’s on. It’s those spectacular performances that have endeared him to Cowboys Nation. The problem is, he’s not always “on”.
Rolando McClain is essentially on a pay-for-performance contract. If he produces on game day he will keep getting paid. If his play keeps slipping or if he’s suspended, then he doesn’t get paid. McClain isn’t the cornerstone player Jason Witten and Sean Lee are. Those gentlemen have the trust of a franchise and the multiyear deals to prove it. They are expected to attend anything and everything Cowboys related. Rolando McClain? Not so much.
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Making McClain’s future even more murky is the drafting of Notre Dame linebacker, Jaylon Smith. Smith has the potential to be one of the best MIKE ‘backers in the NFL next season. He will likely redshirt most of, or all of, 2016 but all hopes and expectations say the Cowboys want him on the field in 2017.
The writing is on the wall for Rolando McClain and everyone seems to be fine with it.
McClain stands to make respectable money this season, provided he produces, and he doesn’t feel any sort of obligation to play a bigger team role off the field.
What’s being painted as dysfunctional by many is anything but. In fact, this may be one of the clearest relationships on the team. We have a team and player who both know their place. The Cowboys won’t ask him to be something he’s not and McClain won’t resent the team for his contract status as long as he’s given a little offseason leeway.
In the end, Rolando McClain is giving the Cowboys exactly what they paid for. And it appears both sides are happy with it, so shouldn’t we?