The Oakland Raiders have told former first round draft pick Rolando McClain that he is free to seek a trade with another team.This comes after numerous reports that the Raiders would cut McClain at the start of free agency, so they can’t possibly think they will get anything for him, right? Seriously, why would someone give up any value for a big time flop who they know will be cut anyway.
The McClain saga has been going on for what seems like forever. Depending on where you want to start, it either began during a Raiders practice one ill fated day or it began with McClain’s infamous grin while being arrested. That picture and the fact that McClain was subsequently allowed to play against the Miami Dolphins the following weekend began to really draw attention to McClain and his issues. Those issues all came to head when he and head coach Dennis Allen got in an argument during practice that resulted in McClain being suspended.
While McClain’s off of the field issues were clearly a concern, it was his on the field play that was really bothersome. If he was a stud at the MLB position, most could look past a few run ins with the police that did not result in any serious penalties. McClain’s play was so bad that during the 2012 season, he saw the play calling duties stripped from him and given to Philip Wheeler. He also became a two down player, losing is starting spot in the nickel package to rookie Miles Burris.
Throughout it all, it appeared as though McClain simply did not care and that turned out to be true. During the fight with Allen, someone on the team asked McClain if he even cared anymore and McClain responded with “I’ve got four million reasons not to care”. Soon after the exchange, McClain hit Facebook and declared he was no longer a Raider and was looking forward to playing for a real franchise.
So why on earth would someone give up anything more than a bag of kicking balls for a guy who was not only the biggest NFL draft bust since JaMarcus Russell, but who clearly has a serious attitude problem and has shown he will quit on your team? Not only that, but why would they trade for him when they know the Raiders will cut him soon? Hell, even the report about McClain being given permission to seek a trade clarified that he will be cut if he cannot find a deal.
The thing is, McKenzie is a pretty smart guy when it comes to football. He can’t seriously expect that he will get any value for McClain. If he believed he could, wouldn’t he have sought out trade partners himself instead of just allowing McClain’s agent to do so? So what then, is McKenzie up to?
If you ask Vic Tafur, the Raiders beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s because the Raiders are punishing McClain. After the trade news broke yesterday, Tafur took to twitter and in a series of posts that hint he believes the tactics are aimed at punishing McClain for his misbehavior.
It began with this tweet from Tafur: “By the way, the “McClain can shop for a trade talk” is a little ridiculous. There’s a reason
#Raiders cut Huff and DHB early & not him …” When someone asked him what the reason was, Tafur responded with “they wanted to give Huff and DHB time and opportunity to find the right new team”. Finally, he tweeted “And it’s the same reason McClain was lining up as a scout team running back in practice at the end of last season”
Now, technically Tafur did not state that he believes the Raiders are punishing McClain, it is only my opinion that Tafur was insinuating, without saying, that the Raiders were trying to punish him.
But it was easier to come to that opinion because I have wondered for a while whether or not this was the Raiders tactic. As I noted above, it just doesn’t make sense that the Raiders would actually find a trade partner for McClain. So why allow him to seek trades if not as an excuse to keep him on the roster even longer while other teams sign MLBs who are actually free to sign.
It does not appear that there are any cap related reasons to keep him around. While I cannot admit to being overly knowledgeable as to the intricacies of McClain’s contract or the insanely complicated NFL cap rules, the common thought was that the Raiders only had to wait until the start of free agency in order to minimize the cap hit for cutting McClain. But we are now almost a full week into free agency and no release even though the Raiders have released three others.
It is entirely possible that the Raiders have absolutely no intent on punishing McClain. But if they are not, I am truly at a loss for understanding why his name can still be found on the Raiders roster. The one thing I do know is that if McKenzie can trade McClain after all that has happened, it will be one of the greatest accomplishments of his young general manager career.