As soon as the Oakland Raiders waived linebacker Rolando McClain on Friday, I knew that several people would be hollering for the Pittsburgh Steelers to go after him.
A lot of the hollering for McClain by the fanbase stems from an article that Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News wrote back in December of 2009, right before Alabama played Florida.
Scabinsky wrote that then-Tennessee assistant coach Lance Thompson, who coached the Alabama linebackers during McClain’s first two college seasons, said that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who spoke at Tennessee’s spring clinic that year, asked him about McClain and asked him to give the linebacker a message the next time they spoke.
What was the message? “Tell him (McClain) he can be my Mike linebacker any day.”
Ever since McClain was drafted eighth overall by the Raiders in 2009, he has been a huge disappointment both on and off the field. On the field, the former Butkus Award winner has registered just 6½ sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in 41 games since he was drafted. He has also been a huge liability in pass coverage.
Off the field, McClain has had a few run-ins with the law, as he was arrested this past January for the second time in just over a year for giving a false name to law enforcement while being stopped for a window tint violation. Previous to that incident, he was charged and found guilty of pointing a gun at a man and firing off a round next to his head. It should be noted, however, that those charges were eventually dropped after the victim told prosecutors he no longer wanted to pursue the case.
Late last November, McClain was suspended by Raiders head coach Dennis Allen for two games for conduct detrimental to the team after the two got into an argument during a practice. McClain immediately took to his Facebook page to air some dirty laundry.
“Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!” McClain followed that up with another post. “Well technically I am. But I’m mentally done. Just waiting on my papers. I’m gonna weigh my options. Looking forward to playing for an actual \’team.\’ ”
Those comments were then reportedly quickly deleted from the page not long after they were posted.
McClain played in a 3-4 defense while at Alabama, and many believe that is the type of system that he belongs in.
So does Tomlin still feel the same way about McClain that he felt four years ago? Last season, during his Tuesday press conference prior to the Week 3 game against the Raiders, Tomlin, who normally goes out of his way to make every player on the opposition sound like a Pro Bowler, didn\’t have much to say about McClain when he got to him in his rundown.
“Their (Raiders) linebacker core – McClain is of course a first rounder out of Alabama,” said Tomlin. “Talented young guy.”
That was all Tomlin had to say about McClain before moving on to mention fellow Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler and the rest of the players on the defense.
So was Tomlin\’s comments back in 2009 just lip service? If they were genuine, you would have to think that the Steelers head coach would be chomping at the bit to try every means possible to get McClain in Pittsburgh.
If by some chance, Tomlin actually still wanted McClain, the Steelers lack of cap space likely wouldn\’t allow it. With less than three weeks to go before the draft takes place, the Steelers have less than $2 million in cap space at their disposal. McClain was scheduled to earn $4.005 million in 2013, $5.805 million in 2014 and $2.665 million in 2015, so you can forget about the Steelers, or any other team for that matter, putting in a waiver claim for him. Should McClain clear waivers, he will become a free agent and at that point can sign with any team.
Do you think that McClain would be willing to take a very small two or three-year contract play in Pittsburgh? Also, do you think that he would be willing to back up Larry Foote for a season and play on special teams?
McClain is a cancer who has yet to excel both on and off the field. After all the supposed problems that the Steelers had last year in their locker-room, do you really think that they would want to add a player such as McClain to the team?
Sure, anything is possible; I suppose, but I for one would be surprised if Tomlin still wants McClain to be his Mike linebacker.