When the Oakland Raiders took linebacker Rolando McClain with the eighth overall choice in the 2010 draft, they were excited.
So excited that Oakland head coach Tom Cable declared the Alabama All-American would be a silver-and-black-clad star for years to come.
“OK, first thing I gotta tell you, I’m geeked,” Cable told the Birmingham (Ala.) News on draft day. “That’s the best word that I can use. I know it sounds silly, but it’s just what I feel right now. …
“This is a great piece to the Oakland Raiders’ future. … I think getting Rolando in this organization does a lot of good for us. We’ve got to stop the run. To get a player of Rolando’s caliber with the eighth pick, I’m extremely, extremely excited.”
Said McClain: “I’m really happy about the chance to play for the Raiders.”
Yet less than three years later, McClain’s future with the Raiders now is in his past, Cable is long gone and the selection of the Crimson Tide standout looks like one more wrong turn (in many) the Raiders organization has taken in the past decade.
On Wednesday, McClain didn’t practice because of what Raiders head coach Dennis Allen called undisclosed “team-related issues,” and it’s now been reported by several news outlets that Oakland is expected to release him today.
After leaving the Raiders facility Wednesday, McClain reportedly posted on his Facebook wall: “Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!” Then later he posted (according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle): “Well, technically I am. But I’m mentally done. Just waiting on my papers.”
Tafur also noted that a reporter in Alabama reported McClain wrote: “I’m going to weigh my options. Looking forward to playing for an actual team.”
When asked if McClain would be at practice Thursday, Allen told Tafur, “I don’t know that.”
This season, McClain has been a big disappointment. In his third season, it was expected the middle linebacker might blossom with another year of experience and in a new defensive scheme with a new coaching staff. Instead, he lost his starting job.
Since coming to the NFL, McClain has had trouble in pass coverage and has been inconsistent against the run.
As ESPN AFC West reporter Bill Williamson wrote, “McClain never lived up to his billing on the field. He was out of shape, slow and often out of position.”
He also had an off-the-field incident in Alabama last season involving a gun charge that was overturned this year.
Williamson notes that if McClain is released as expected, he will be the 27th player to leave the team since Reggie McKenzie was hired as general manager.
It is, says Williamson, a sign of tremendous growing pains within the Raiders organization as the entire roster is being remade and past mistakes in drafting and giving out large contracts are purged.
Wrote Williamson: “Changes like this show that the Raiders are rebuilding and patience is needed with the new regime. McKenzie is trying to reconstruct a team with a bad salary cap situation and small draft classes. Getting rid of players who didn’t work out like McClain is also part of the process. Perhaps more cuts are on the way.”