Rolando McClain has earned a 10-game suspension for repeated violations of the NFL drug policy. He did not participate in the team's voluntary activities and showed up to the mandatory minicamp overweight. He has no-showed training camp and there is no indication that he wants to play football anymore.
So, why is he still a Dallas Cowboy?
This is the question that many fans are asking about McClain's status. For years, Jason Garrett has promoted a locker room mantra about having “the right kind of guys.” He is annoyingly repetitious about the importance of players wanting to be here and giving their best.
Rolando McClain spits in the face of everything Garrett preaches.
Dallas knew that McClain was a risk. He has played each of the last two seasons on one-year contracts and was signed to another last March. The Cowboys weren't going to make any long-term investment in a player with clear character and motivational issues.
So, given that McClain has gone off the deep end, why are the Cowboys waiting to cut him loose? What's to gain?
Jerry Jones gave a rambling, barely coherent answer last week. He mentioned “cap considerations” and didn't go into much detail. Really?
For 2016, McClain was given a $750k signing bonus. The rest of his compensation is in non-guaranteed salary and incentives. Now, if McClain is still on the roster during the suspension, Dallas can recoup some of that bonus money.
If you think it's odd that the Cowboys would be miserly about that money, you're not alone. Just a year ago, Dallas gave free agent linebacker Jasper Brinkley $2 million in guaranteed money and then cut him before Week One. This was a guy who simply got beat out by younger prospects. He didn't undermine the head coach's core philosophy.
Clearly, Dallas doesn't need one dollar back from McClain's signing bonus. So, what's the real issue?
Sadly, it may be the hope of getting something out of him later this season. Knowing that McClain won't be available until November anyway, Dallas could be swallowing all of this now so that McClain can eventually re-join the team and perhaps help them make a playoff run.
The tragedy of Rolando McClain is just how incredibly talented he is. Even as a guy who doesn't love football, McClain can be a difference maker just on his natural gifts. He's done it the last two years, when healthy, for the Cowboys.
Can McClain get himself into playing shape and contribute by Week 11? Sure, and that could be what the Cowboys are hoping for.
However, this isn't a time when Dallas can afford to make deals with devils. The character and culture of the team has been brought into question among fans and even mainstream media, beginning with the Greg Hardy fiasco and escalating this year with the suspensions of McClain, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Randy Gregory.
Less than 10% of the roster shouldn't define it's character, but that's not how modern media works. Small samples and vocal minorities are now more than enough to convict, be it in politics, social issues, or sports analysis.
But we don't even have to get that grandiose about it. We can bring it down to the single Cowboys fan who's listening to the next Jason Garrett press conference. The head coach starts praising some player for being “the right kind of guy” and the “type of person” that the organization is looking for.
The fan rolls his eyes. He thinks of Rolando McClain.
That is what the Cowboys and Garrett are up against right now. If the mantra is losing traction with fans, is it unreasonable to assume that the same won't happen in the locker room? If some players get multiple chances for selfish behavior and poor conduct then why should others stay on the straight and narrow?
Is it really worth less than $750k to tell your team that Garrett's mantra is bullshit?
I have no doubt that Rolando McClain has personal problems. However, he's not in treatment like Randy Gregory or seemingly taking any steps to address them. He's also a 27-year-old man who's had more than enough forgiveness and excuses made for him.
It's time to stop letting this self-absorbed, unmotivated waste of talent represent the Dallas Cowboys. I don't care what he might do for you later this season. What's he doing now is destructive to the team's image, the coach's credibility, and potentially the young players in the locker room.
It's time to put Jones' money where Garrett's mouth is.