Rolando McClain cements status as a bust with early retirement
He may have been there already, but Rolando McClain guaranteed himself a spot in the conversation over biggest NFL draft busts Wednesday, when the Ravens announced his retirement.
“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” said Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, who signed McClain to a non-guaranteed one-year, $700K contract this offseason. “We have placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.”
And so ends (at least temporarily) McClain’s thoroughly disappointing NFL career. The 23-year-old linebacker out of Alabama was the No. 8 pick, by Oakland, in the 2010 draft. but registered just a half-sack in his rookie season. Two more subpar years in black and silver (and off-field issues) led the Raiders to release him.
In need of some linebacker help, the Ravens picked McClain up earlier this offseason. He responded to that reprieve by getting arrested in April, his third run-in with the law in less than a year.
One way or another, McClain’s days in Baltimore appeared to be numbered. Between his latest incarceration for disorderly contact and the Ravens’ additions of Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumveril via the draft and free agency, respectively, McClain faced a battle for his roster spot. He instead saved the Ravens the trouble by bailing.
The mere fact that the Ravens had not released him before Wednesday hinted that they were hopeful he could provide some depth at an inside linebacker spot — Brown, Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan look like the top three options for two positions.
Oakland’s selection of McClain back in 2010 came just three years after the franchise whiffed on JaMarcus Russell in Round 1 and one draft following a misfire on WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. The list of players taken after McClain in the 2010 first round includes C.J. Spiller, Earl Thomas, Jason Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant.
McClain was a Butkus Award winner in his final season at Alabama and helped the Tide to a BCS national title, before declaring for the draft after his junior season. While there were some questions about his ability to play three downs in the NFL, McClain’s pick by the Raiders generally received high marks (including on SI.com).
Sadly, this was another case where a player’s natural ability never translated to the field at the NFL level — for McClain, due in large part to his failure to stay clean in the eyes of the law.
Given McClain’s young age, this may have the makings of a retirement that does not stick for long. For now, though, the Ravens can forget about trying to make McClain into their latest restoration project.