Step 1 has happened: linebacker Rolando McClain has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL.
Step 2 remains in doubt: Will anyone sign him?
Eligible to return
Pro Football Talk was first to report on Friday that McClain, now 30 years old, has been conditionally reinstated by the league.
Last month, McClain told al.com that he intended to make a comeback. It’s a daunting task: the eighth pick in the 2010 draft was indefinitely suspended in 2016 after multiple suspensions, and he hasn’t played in an NFL game since the 2015 regular-season finale.
Drafted by the Oakland Raiders, McClain played 41 games over three seasons for the team, with 38 starts. But he struggled on the field and had some bizarre incidents off it, and was released in the spring of 2013.
He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens but never played for the team, and then signed with the Cowboys, where his problems continued. He played in 24 games with 23 starts for Dallas.
Healthy — physically and mentally
In his interview with al.com, McClain said he wanted to change his NFL story.
“I’m nowhere near satisfied with how my professional career has gone,” McClain said. “That’s for myself. That’s me looking in the mirror and talking to my boys. Nah, that’s not the taste I want to leave in my mouth.”
Shortly after, he tweeted that he was healthy “both mentally and physically.”
He says he’s in great shape and having corrective surgery to fix an impingement issue in his hip that he’d had since birth helped a great deal.
“Every time I got in my linebacker position, it was bone on bone grind,” McClain said. “Not only do I feel good, I’m recovered and I’m rested. I feel better now because I know I’ll be playing with two legs.”
Will anyone sign him?
The Cowboys still hold McClain’s rights. Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk tweeted that the team is expected to cut him now that he’s been reinstated, though Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweeted that the team was “discussing what to do” with the linebacker.
If that happens, will anyone sign him?
Timing is not on McClain’s side: The preseason ended on Thursday night, and teams are in the process of trimming their rosters from the training camp limit of 90 to the regular-season limit of 53. He also doesn’t have practice squad eligibility.
He may get a couple of workouts, but it will be interesting to see if a team signs McClain at this stage.
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