Rolando McClain surprised everyone when he retired from the NFL at just 23 years old and only a month after signing with the Baltimore Ravens.
He took a year away from the game to return to his home state of Alabama and straighten up some personal issues. Now he’s expressed on social media interest in playing in the NFL again this year, and the Ravens hold his rights if he does come out of retirement.
So would the Ravens want him?
“To me, it all depends on a couple things,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings. “Who [is he] as a person right now? Has he grown up? He had a lot of growing up to do obviously. And how hard he’s working, how hard he’s working at Alabama right now.
“If he’s working his rear end off, then I’m kind of excited about him. If he’s not, then I’ve got no interest in him being on our team.”
McClain was a former top-10 pick who spent the first three years of his career with the Raiders. The inside linebacker failed to live up to expectations in Oakland, and he also dealt with off-the-field issues stemming from multiple arrests.
The Ravens gave him a second chance by signing him after he was released by the Raiders, but he was arrested just 10 days later in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. McClain then decided to step away from the game.
He returned to Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he re-enrolled at the University of Alabama and connected with former college coach Nick Saban. McClain has tried to stay in shape by working out at Alabama during the last year, and is scheduled to complete his college degree this summer.
McClain has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, but told reporters at Alabama’s pro day earlier this month that he’s not made up his mind about next season.
“I haven’t even started to think about it, so we’ll see if that’s the decision I make,” McClain said.
However, McClain did post on Twitter last week, “I’ll be back this year.”
Adding McClain to the roster would fill a need the Ravens currently have at inside linebacker. McClain said he has not spoken with General Manager Ozzie Newsome recently, but he believes that his agent Pat Dye has.
Harbaugh said he has not talked with McClain.
When would the Ravens need to hear from McClain about his decision for 2014? Harbaugh didn't specify whether there is a time frame.
"If he un-retires or whatever the situation is, then we'll decide whether he is going to be good for our team," Harbaugh said. "And if we think yes, then we have the rights to him and he'll have to come back with us. But if we don't think he'll be good for our team, we'll let him go and play for somebody else. It's all up to Rolando McClain. Who are you? How hard are you working? And how much do you want to play football? Up to this point, he hasn't really wanted to play football. That's what I'm interested in as a coach."