By; Brett Dickinson & Barry Kamen
BD: Barry, its been an interesting week for “Ravens” middle linebacker Rolando McClain. After showing up a hour late for his team workout, he didn’t have a good outing. McClain struggled the entire time on the field, being winded and could not even finish. But the Ravens still activated him off the “retired” list. What do you make of the Rolando McClain situation and how will the team handle him?
BK: The case of Rolando McClain is a curious one indeed. A starter for a BCS National Championship team during his time at Alabama. A top 10 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Four arrests, including one not long after signing with the Ravens. Retirement from the NFL at age 24. Now, a potential comeback seems more like a dream than reality for McClain following this week’s workout with the team.
Seth Wickersham’s piece on Rolando McClain is a must-read for all interested Ravens fans. Written last October, it appeared that McClain’s retreat to Tuscaloosa helped clear his mind of things that were bothering him as an NFL player. The Alabama connection cannot be ignored; Rolando is a cousin of former Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain, and general manager Ozzie Newsome loves getting players from his alma mater. With the news that the team activated him off of the retired/reserved list, it appears that the Ravens are committed to having McClain as a part of their team for the summer.
What bothers me most about the situation is McClain showing up late to his workout. This is the National Football League; be punctual. If an opportunity to play for the Baltimore Ravens does not mean enough to you to show up early, or even on time, you are in the wrong profession. With the NFL Draft approaching in the next couple weeks, there will be plenty of inside linebacker prospects who were not blessed with the talent of McClain, but will be working furiously to make an NFL team. Any expectations for McClain to see the field with the Ravens seem far-fetched. The Ravens should treat him as an undrafted free agent prospect, only giving him repetitions with the third-team players in drills, to see if it lights a fire. I have my doubts that there was any passion for the game in the first.
In another curious case, it was reported earlier in the week by NFL.com’s Albert Breer that the Ravens offered defensive tackle Haloti Ngata a long-term extension to help alleviate Ngata’s large cap number. However, the offer was turned down by Ngata’s camp. Brett, your thoughts on the Ravens making this kind of offer to Ngata, and why would Ngata turn it down?
BD: This whole situation would have me pulling out my hair, if only I had any (I guess I can tug on my beard for a while). First off, the idea of extending Ngata by the team is simply ridiculous. We already went through this once, when the team re-upped with Terrell Suggs earlier this off season. It seems like a mistake to just push off cap issues by keeping around a player on the decline; no matter what they have done for the organization in the past.
The NFL has been progressively becoming a young man’s game, with 30-something players becoming expendable because of wear and tear and high salary demands. Ngata has not been the dominant player he once was for years, but still can be productive in the NFL for a couple of seasons. The problem is what does it cost against the team’s salary cap?
The Ravens have been pretty masterful of working around financial restrictions, but it will catch up to them sooner than later. Player loyalty is nice to see, but is a dieing breed in the NFL. Ozzie might have to catch up on this to keep the Ravens at a consistently high level of competition in the near future.
As far as Ngata turning down the deal, I believe the deal may have had an “out clause” where the team could cut him in a year or two. We obviously do not have the figures, but it could have cost him money in the long term, as he is already due a large sum the next couple years. In the end who am I to talk ill of Ozzie Newsome? But we may be seeing some faults in his approach. The team and the player may be better that this deal did not work out.