IRVING, Texas – Rolando McClain's impact on the Cowboys defense hasn't gone unnoticed by team executives – to the point that his longterm future of the team is a topic of conversation after five games.
In an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Monday morning, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he expects the team to try and sign McClain longterm after a start that has seen the linebacker amass 23 tackles, a sack and an interception in four appearances.
"We want to keep good football players that do the right things on and off the field. Everything we've seen from Rolando so far is he's one of those guys," Jones said. "I certainly see a situation where we're going to be trying to sign him to a longterm contract and keep him here with the Dallas Cowboys."
To say McClain has outplayed expectations would be the understatement of the season. The Cowboys acquired him from Baltimore in June in exchange for a sixth-round pick – a move made to offset the loss of Sean Lee, who tore his ACL in the spring. McClain is currently playing on a one-year deal.
For such a small price, McClain has brought a physical force to the middle of the Dallas defense and is one of the team's leading tacklers. It wasn't lost on Jones that when McClain left Sunday's game against Houston with a groin injury, Arian Foster ran wild against the Cowboys.
"I certainly noticed it, and I think his teammates were the first to say they noticed it," Jones said. "He was a top 10 pick in the draft, and I think we're seeing around here why he [embedded_ad]
McClain's high draft status is what makes his odyssey so intriguing to this point. As a high selection out of Alabama, he's been arrested three separate times and retired from the game on two different occasions during stints with Oakland and Baltimore. He faced a short trial for misdemeanor charges at the beginning of the Cowboys' training camp, but he hasn't faced any off-field problems since joining the team.
"He's certainly had some things that held him back early in his career, but he seems to have put a lot of those things behind him, and he looks like a top-10 player," Jones said. "He's making plays like that, he's big, he's physical, as anyone can see who's watching the game – when he hits you, you go down."
If the Cowboys do in fact re-sign McClain, it would give them a logjam of two starting-caliber middle linebackers once Lee returns from his ACL injury – not exactly a bad problem to have. Faced with that scenario, Jones said the Cowboys could potentially move Lee to weak side linebacker and keep McClain in the middle.
"He'd be a great compliment in there with Sean Lee in terms of how Sean plays the game," Jones said. "It may be a situation where if he were a Mike and Sean moved over and played some Will for us, it may help Sean in terms of the wear and tear on his body. There's a lot of thoughts there."