5:56pm: Jerry Jones said after Dallas’ Week 11 win the team wants McClain back after his suspension ends, whenever that will be.
“We certainly, when he’s eligible, we won’t release him and when he’s eligible he’ll be a part of this team,” Jones said, via Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. “He had gotten in good shape. We’ll just deal with what I’ll find out with his status from the league.”
Since McClain has been on the reserve/did not report list this season, it’s possible his one-year Cowboys deal could be applied to 2017. But Jones did not want to speculate on that for fear of punishment from the league.
“I can’t talk about those items because it might imply that I knew something about his status,” Jones said, via George, “and I don’t want to lose a draft pick.”
If McClain is suspended for the bulk of 2017 as well, it would be a stretch he returns. He’ll turn 28 in July but will have, if this additional ban goes through, missed over 30 games by the time he’s eligible again. Jaylon Smith is expected to be given a strong chance at winning the middle-‘backer job next season, although the second-round rookie’s complex injury status leaves that reality far from certain as well.
8:20am: Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for another year, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who reports that McClain recently missed another drug test. McClain was already serving a 10-game suspension for testing positive for opiates, a suspension that was scheduled to be lifted tomorrow, but now he will have wait until November 2017 before he is eligible to apply for reinstatement. He is, however, expected to appeal the ban.
Of course, even when he is eligible to return, it is unclear whether another NFL club will give him an opportunity to suit up. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, the Cowboys themselves doubt that McClain will ever play again. Dallas will keep McClain on the reserve/did not report list until his suspension becomes official.
McClain’s return to prominence with the Cowboys in 2014 was an unexpected feel-good story, and he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 28th-best linebacker in 2015. He was rewarded with a one-year, $4MM deal with Dallas this past offseason, several months before his 10-game suspension was announced. He has infamously battled an addiction to “purple drank,” and he compounded his problems by skipping voluntary team activities in the spring and by failing to turn up to training camp. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season’s end, but it is difficult to envision the former Alabama star getting his career back on track.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.