IRVING, Texas (105.3 THE FAN) - The acquisition of Rolando McClain was never going to be risk-free — even though it came cheaply — because of his talent level.
The more the Cowboys put him on the field in 2014, the better he was. And the better he was, the more reliant on him they were. And the more reliant on him they were … the more difficult it sometimes became inside of Valley Ranch because of his enigmatic personal style.
Now McClain is a free agent, and if this was about talent alone (he was the Cowboys' best defender for most of last season, finishing second on the team in tackles with 108, with a sack, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures, five pass deflections, a forced fumble and two interceptions), this would be a high-anxiety negotiation for high dollars.
But it is neither, the club instead preparing to move along from McClain while signing former Vikings first-team middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and also anticipating full health from Sean Lee.
In addition to the usual contractual issues — money and years — this is about trust and reliability. Sources tell me the Cowboys staff felt hamstrung by McClain's occasional availability, by having to wonder if his body and his psyche were always willing.
If the Cowboys stand firm on not wanting to overpay McClain (or on paying him at all), they will likely be a less talented team for it. But trust is monumental here. And Cowboys fans are left having to choose trust when it comes to the decision overseen here by the likes of Jason Garrett, Will McClay and Rod Marinelli.
"I was on a bad path," McClain said during the season, referring back to previously erratic moments in his career in Oakland and Baltimore. "I didn't deserve to play football, so to (speak). I wasn't all the way there in the game.''
Rolando McClain's "path'' continues … quite possibly away from Dallas.
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