It seems like months now, but just a few weeks ago LeSean McCoy was an Eagle, Brandon Marshall was a Bear, Ndamukong Suh was a Lion, and DeMarco Murray was a Cowboy. The NFL sure knows how to kick off a new league year.
Several high profile players found new homes, in what turned out to be one of the most entertaining free agent signing periods of all time. But like any good party, it had to come to an end…and when it did…several other high profile players were still unemployed.
Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, and Lance Briggs…just to name a few.
While these players may have very well played their last game, there is another free agent still unsigned…and the Titans need to snatch him up.
Middle Linebacker Rolando McClain.
Ok, lets get this part out of the way. Yes, McClain comes with baggage…including a possible four game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. But he also comes with talent, and loads of it.
It’s no secret that the linebacker position was one of the weakest areas on the team last season for Tennessee. Teams pretty much did what they wanted up the middle, often leading to a gross disparity in time of possession.
The offense certainly did them no favors in that regard either.
McClain was arguably the biggest reason for the Cowboys’ turn around on defense last year. He was all over the field, and played with a reckless abandon…something that was missing in Tennessee on that side of the ball.
He also plays middle linebacker, and would be flanked on the outside by free agent signees Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. Along with Wesley Woodard, the Titans would have four quality starters to spearhead Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme.
Second year linebacker Avery Williams played in all 16 games last year, and like most rookies, mostly struggled while showing flashes. He will push the two starting inside linebackers for playing time at best. Or provide quality depth at the very least. With a season under his belt, Williams can hold down the fort until October. Then McClain can be worked into the mix.
A five linebacker look? I wouldn’t put anything past Mr. Lebeau.
Now…the business side.
The Dallas Cowboys, who McClain played for last season, are rumored to still have interest in bringing him back. The problem is…they need him back on the cheap. Salary cap issues have their backs against the wall, and I’m sure the Cowboys were hoping that McClain’s recent issues may drive interest down.
So far so good in that regard by the way.
But…the Titans have two things in their favor. Plenty of cap room…and nothing to lose.
So what if he misses the first four games? By comparison, Williams had 79 tackles in 16 games last season. McClain had 81 in 13. Plus, the Titans can still sign McClain to a team friendly deal…they just have to outbid the cash strapped Cowboys.
And let’s not act like it’s not business for Mr. McClain as well. He’s close to three strikes, and will most likely have only twelve games to prove he’s still a commodity in this league. The Titans will see the best of him when he does play.
Similar to his situation in Dallas last year. And under those circumstances…McClain flourished.
The Titans have already been aggressive on defense this free agency period. Why stop now?