Cowboys bring back linebacker McClain on 1-year contract
IRVING, Texas (AP) Rolando McClain revived his career with a solid season in Dallas. Now the linebacker will return for at least one more year with the Cowboys.
McClain, a former top 10 pick who flamed out after just three seasons in Oakland, signed a one-year contract Wednesday, the team reported on its website. The one-year deal is worth $3 million, with incentives that could push the value to $4 million.
McClain had trouble staying on the field last year because of various injuries but still finished second on the team with 108 tackles. His presence played a significant role in the improvement of a defense that was among the worst in NFL history in 2013.
Coupled with strong seasons from Tony Romo, NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray and star receiver Dez Bryant, the defense helped the Cowboys break a three-year rut of 8-8 records that ended just short of the playoffs. Dallas won the NFC East at 12-4 and beat Detroit in a wild-card game before losing to Green Bay in the divisional round.
McClain was a high priority for the Cowboys on a long list of their own free agents, and his return is a boost after Murray signed with division rival Philadelphia. The 26-year-old former Alabama star re-upped with Dallas a day after visiting Super Bowl champion New England.
The 25-year-old was drafted eighth overall in 2010 by the Raiders, who dumped him after three disappointing seasons. He ended up in Baltimore, where he retired and twice walked away from the game while skipping the 2013 season.
The Cowboys traded for him last summer after losing Sean Lee to a season-ending knee injury.
Now that McClain and Lee will be on the field together, Lee gets to move to his more natural spot on the weak side. Lee was set to start in the middle when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the first workout last offseason.
The return of McClain comes two weeks after the Cowboys added free agent defensive end Greg Hardy, who could be an elite pass rusher but faces a possible suspension over a conviction that was later dismissed in a domestic violence case in North Carolina.
With McClain and Lee returning and Anthony Hitchens coming off a strong rookie season, Dallas looks to be in good shape at linebacker despite the loss of free agents Bruce Carter (Tampa Bay) and Justin Durant (Atlanta).
NOTES: The Cowboys signed DE Efe Obada after he played one season for the London Warriors in the British American Football Association. He's now teammates with Jack Crawford, a defensive lineman from London who went to Penn State before playing two seasons for Oakland. Crawford is in his second year with Dallas.
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