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Late For Work 5/16: Rolando McClain Could Return To Ravens

Posted May 16, 2013

Why did McClain retire and what’s next? Mark Clayton retires, Ravens atop best front offices.

Rolando McClain Could Return To Ravens

It’s certainly been done before – just ask Ricky Williams or Brett Favre.

It’s the retire, then unretire move.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio thinks it’s a definite possibility for linebacker Rolando McClain, who yesterday told General Manager Ozzie Newsome he’s hanging up his cleats at just 23 years old.

In fact, a source tells Florio the Ravens have offered to help him.

Since Baltimore placed McClain on the reserve/retired list, the team retains McClain’s rights if he chooses to come back. If he does, the Ravens would have him under the same one-year deal.

“My first thought upon seeing the news that he’ll be walking away from the game is that he’s doing so temporarily, and that if he stays out of trouble for a specific period of time (perhaps a year, perhaps less than that), McClain will unretire and return to the Ravens,” Florio wrote.

“It’s a brilliant approach, since it gives the Ravens an escape hatch from McClain’s most recent legal troubles and it likewise gives McClain a path to return to the team.”

A source tells Florio that the decision to retire was made solely by McClain, with no influence from the team. The source says McClain wants to focus on getting himself together before continuing his football career. McClain still has pending legal matters to handle, including a July 9 court date.

Florio’s source says the Ravens have “offered to be a resource during this time.”

“Thus, the only way McClain’s NFL story won’t continue will be if his arrest record continues to grow.  But if he can keep himself out of trouble, McClain could indeed be back.  And he’d likely be in Baltimore,” Florio wrote.

“We’ll see what happens,” the source said.

Florio isn’t alone. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke (who declared McClain one of the NFL’s biggest draft busts), said that given McClain’s young age, “this may have the makings of a retirement that does not stick for long.”

But does McClain really have the desire to come back? ESPN’s Jamison Hensley has some serious questions about McClain’s passion if he’s tossing in the towel three years into his career.

McClain can call it retiring, but it's not,” Hensley said. “It's a retirement when 37-year-old Ray Lewis decides to leave the game. When 23-year-olds walk away, it's quitting. Plain and simple.”

Why Did McClain Retire? And What’s Next?

McClain’s run-ins with the law are well-documented. But why did he choose now, just over a month after signing with the Ravens and weeks after his latest arrest, to retire?

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport squashed one rumor, saying he hears McClain did not retire for fear of facing a drug suspension.

The answer is that it’s a mystery, apparently even to the Ravens.

“He simply called the Ravens and told them he was retiring,” Rapoport says. “No explanation. They still aren’t sure.”

How do you even retire at 23 years old? McClain didn’t get a dime from the Ravens because his one-year, $700,000 contract reportedly had no guarantees. But he’s seemingly not doing too poorly financially.

The 2010 eighth-overall pick made $22.85 million in guaranteed money from the rookie contract he signed with the Oakland Raiders. He was fortunate enough to be in final draft class under the old collective bargaining agreement, before rookie contracts were scaled back.

“Apparently, he bought a nice house recently in Madison County, Ala. with no mortgage, paid it off completely upon purchase,” The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson tweeted.

Only problem is it doesn’t look like McClain is moving away from home, where he’s gotten into repeated trouble. His hometown of Decatur, Ala., is just outside Madison County.

“McClain struggled in a controlled and structured environment in the NFL,” Hensley wrote. “Now, McClain is on his own. … You don't want to see another Titus Young, whose life has spiraled out of control since he was released by the Detroit Lions.”

Former Raven WR Mark Clayton Announces Retirement

McClain wasn’t the only Raven retiring yesterday.

Former Baltimore wide receiver Mark Clayton announced his retirement via Facebook and Twitter. The Ravens’ first-round pick in 2005 (25th overall) spent five seasons in Baltimore.

Clayton never lived up to fans’ expectations of a first-round receiver, largely because he constantly battled injuries. But he was a solid No. 2 receiver, and well-respected player and person.

His best season came in 2006 when he caught 67 passes for 939 yards and five touchdowns. Clayton’s reception totals diminished each year after that, and he finished his career with two injury-plagued seasons in St. Louis in 2010 and 2011.

Time to Retire …” Clayton said on Facebook.

“I'm now in the Dungeon working on my new career! NFL as I know it will be something I watch from now on. I’ll be retiring this summer and moving on to other things. I'm feeling good and I would like to keep it that way.

“I've sacrificed, hurt, bleed, cried, given up and got back up, fought injury after injury and poured all I had into my craft as it pertains to football. … Easily the hardest decision I ever made in my life, but right one.”

Not sure what dungeon Clayton’s talking about, but I wish him the best of luck. He was one of the nicest guys I ever covered.

Ravens Rank Atop NFL Front Offices

The Ravens have long been known for having a strong front office. But the best of the best?

Yes, says CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The Ravens beat out the New England Patriots for the top spot in his rankings.

It’s not easy to stay competitive for the long haul in the NFL with the salary cap and other measures taken to level the playing field. As La Canfora put it, “the dirty little secret of the NFL is that, at best, there is only about a third of the league that truly gets it.”

If you don’t know this by now, the Ravens definitely get it.

“The reigning champs have a legend pulling the strings in Ozzie Newsome, and an owner, Steve Biscotti, who immediately grasped the delicate line he walks as decision maker and delegator. He knows when and where to stick his nose in, with the signing of Joe Flacco to a record deal the latest example,” La Canfora wrote.

“They aren't afraid to make tough choices, gutting a veteran core after the lockout and undertaking another veteran re-tooling this offseason, but had another killer draft, at least on paper, and this team is poised to be better than the unit that won the Super Bowl a year ago.”

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