IRVING, Texas – After almost a month of inactivity, Rolando McClain's name appears to be surfacing on the free agency market.
McClain is visiting with the New England Patriots on Monday, according to multiple reports across the league landscape. That's the biggest bit of news surrounding the former top-10 pick since free agency opened back on March 10.
News regarding McClain has been relatively quiet on the Cowboys' front, aside from the revelation last month that he had received a four-game fine for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy – and that one more violation would require a four-game suspension.
Despite that, it was just last week that multiple members of the Cowboys' front office expressed their desire to retain the veteran linebacker on a new contract.
"We're in talks with him, and we want him back – that's the best way to say it," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones at the NFL's annual meetings in Phoenix. "We've got to just figure out something that works for both sides."
The Cowboys acquired McClain from Baltimore for a sixth-round pick last summer as part of an insurance policy for injured starter Sean Lee. It was a gamble that was hardly guaranteed to work, as McClain had been arrested three times and retired from football twice during a star-crossed career.
The move paid off, as McClain's development into a force in the middle of the Dallas defense was one of the major storylines of the Cowboys' run to the playoffs. He tallied 108 tackles and two interceptions, and he led the defense with nine tackles for loss.
Given the relative lack of communication between McClain and the Cowboys, it has been widely speculated that the team had decided to move on from the mercurial talent, who was an All-American at Alabama. The Cowboys signed veteran middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a two-year deal earlier in March, giving rise to the question of whether McClain would return.
Both Stephen Jones and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, as well as Cowboys coach Jason Garrett have said the conversation to keep McClain in Dallas is ongoing, however.
"We are in negotiations so I wouldn't want to address a point where we are," Jerry Jones said. "He certainly is a player that did have a very positive impact on our season and his teammates and is someone we are negotiating with to be on our team."
With McClain visiting the Patriots, it appears the Cowboys have at least one competitor for his services.