Bengals 2015 Free Agency: Diamonds in the Rough

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Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Rolando McClain (55) in game action against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Detroit 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

LB Rolando McClain

Sticking with the theme here, middle linebacker Rolando McClain will also be available this off-season.

McClain’s situation is a bit different than Bowers in that he has enjoyed some NFL success.  In 2011 was McClain’s best year.  He was in his second year, playing for the Raiders at the time, and looked to be on the upswing.  But the Raiders were entrenched in turmoil and when McClain’s play slipped, the Raiders decided to let him go.

The move proved smart as McClain went through a difficult period in 2013 that saw him retire from the NFL after being signed by the Baltimore Ravens; McClain actually “retired” twice, once in 2013, and then again, after staging a brief comeback, in 2014.

McClain was traded to the Cowboys this past season and decided to play once more.  In Dallas, McClain had a solid comeback season producing 81 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defended, and 10 stuffs. It’s because of this that a return to Dallas may be preferable.  The problem is the Cowboys lack significant cap space and have several free agents to re-sign, i.e. Dez Bryant, Doug Free, and DeMarco Murray.  The Cowboys simply won’t be able to afford everyone.

The Bengals are in need of a middle linebacker who is solid against the run, especially with Rey Maualuga‘s pending free agency.  Regardless of whether the team signs Maualuga or not, McClain would be a good addition to the unit and could out perform Maualuga anyway as a true middle linebacker.

Rolando McClain does present some risks given his strange history.  It would take some careful consideration and a measured contractual risk, but deliberation over McClain is warranted.

Next: Tight End is Another Need for the Bengals