McClain Could Be A Steal For Ravens
Ian Rapoport is plugged into NFL inner circles.
And when the NFL Network reporter asked around for opinions on the Ravens' reported signing of former Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, he noticed a trend.
"Talk to people around the NFL and all say the same thing – it's perfect," Rapoport said.
While McClain didn't live up to his 2010 top-10 draft status and has endured off-the-field issues, General Manager Ozzie Newsome may have ended up with what CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora thinks "could be a steal."
First, this is a low-risk, high-reward situation.
The Ravens are only investing a reported $700,000 in a player who was once a Butkus Award winner and eighth-overall pick. That's a minor investment that could pay significant dividends.
The potential upside is that the 23 year old recaptures his college form and the Ravens find a legitimate player to plug into Ray Lewis' former spot. The potential downside is that his off-field issues continue, and doesn't produce on it. If that's the case, the Ravens can move forward without him, and don't lose much in terms of money.
"When Rolando puts his mind to it, he can be a productive starter," Phil Savage, a former Ravens executive told The Baltimore Sun. "He was captain of the Alabama defense and he knows that Nick Saban defense. Most of the issues he's had are from the emotional side of the things. The Ravens have done a terrific job over the years of managing players. They're going to give this a shot, and it's low-risk, high-reward. They may have found a starter on April 10, for crying out loud."
"There's no downside for them," added Ross Tucker of ProFootballTalk.com. "If he gets in trouble off the field or he plays bad, cut him."
Second, Baltimore provides a structured environment – an ideal spot for a player who is looking for a second chance to revive a career full of potential.
While Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, the Ravens still have plenty of veteran leadership, plus a proven coaching staff under John Harbaugh and a strong front office led by Newsome. He'll enjoy mentorship in Baltimore he may not have experienced in Oakland.
"Ozzie Newsome's a genius," PFT.com's Shaun King said. "[McClain] failed in Oakland. Oakland is like a half-way house. Baltimore is like a two-parent household with dual income. … You put Rolando McClain in a better environment, which Baltimore has, where he can be nurtured under Terrell Suggs and that group and there's a high chance that he develops into the player people thought he would be coming out of Alabama. Never give up on a guy because he didn't succeed in Oakland."
Ravens brass will make expectations crystal clear when McClain visits the Under Armour Performance Center Friday, according to multiple reports. At that meeting, they can explain to McClain that's he's on a short leash, says NFL.com's Dan Hanzus.
"You put him on a one-strike agreement like the Dolphins did last year with receiver Chad Ochocinco. One mistake and you're gone," PFT.com's Mike Florio said.
Third, there's the Alabama factor.
McClain will play in a Baltimore defensive system that is similar to the one he played in at Alabama. Plus, Newsome is a Crimson Tide alum, who followed McClain's career closely. He may have the inside track that could be useful in terms of helping the young man fit it.
"Ozzie has that connection to Alabama and he has that insight," Savage said. "Sometimes, guys don't pan out at their first stop. So, you catch him on the rebound. When an Alabama player ends up in front of Ozzie Newsome, they know who he is and what he represents. Rest assured, the law is laid down about expectations."
Is McClain a Two- Or Three-Down Back?
There are questions about McClain's ability to play all three downs, as he has shown struggles in coverage the past three years.
While Savage believes there's potential for McClain to be a three-down player, ESPN's NFL scout Matt Williamson believes McClain will only be a two-down linebacker in Baltimore.
In the video below, Williamson says McClain not only struggled in coverage in Oakland but traces that weakness back to his days at Alabama.
Schedule Announcement Could Be Delayed
Up until now, the wide belief, given certain hints, was that the NFL would announce all 32 teams' schedules on Tuesday, April 16.
While that could still happen, ProFootballTalk is reporting that the announcement could be delayed.
With the Ravens no longer able to open the season at home Thursday night, the process of laying out all the matchups for 2013 has been complicated.
"Coincidentally (or not), a show dedicated to the schedule release has been removed from NFL Network's online listings for April 16," Florio wrote. "There isn't much time that it can be delayed, if the NFL plans to release the schedule before the draft, which starts on April 25."
Chargers Inquire About McKinnie
The San Diego Chargers, who recently cut former Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither, are now inquiring about Bryant McKinnie.
San Diego reached out to McKinnie's agent yesterday, according to U-T San Diego, which was the latest of a "couple general discussions" between the two sides.
"No deal is imminent. No visit to San Diego is planned," wrote U-T San Diego's Michael Gehlken.
McKinnie is still open to returning to Baltimore, but made it clear that he wants a starting job. He doesn't expect to chat with the Ravens again until after the draft. The same may be true for the Chargers and any other interested parties.
"Action expected quickly from teams after NFL draft," wrote Wilson.
- @GerrySandusky: So far the Ravens have signed Canty, Dumerville, Huff, and now Rolando McClain for far less than Clev paid Paul Kruger. #capmanagement [Twitter]
- @GerrySandusky: How's this for draft acumen: Every player other than Sergio Kindle that the Ravens drafted in the last 3 years is still on the team. [Twitter]
- @RavensSalaryCap: If reports of McClain's deal @ $700K are correct, impact on Cap is only $220K once Ruleof51 is applied. Player he replaces was making $480K [Twitter]
- @RavensSalaryCap: McClain's deal at $700K would leave Ravens at $3,920,252 under the Salary Cap. Will receive an additional $2.5M in 6/2 for Pollard. [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) among 23 players accepting invites to attend the NFL draft [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: RT @Billy_Rothman: @TorreySmithWR will you ever cut your locks? Within the next 3 years...99.9% chance [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: RT @Jose_torr93: @TorreySmithWR if you could play for any QB other than Flacco, who would it be?...@TyrodTaylor beast!! [Twitter]
- @bryantmckinnie: Getting sized4 my #SuperBowl ring [Twitter/Instagram]