After talking with several people around the league and at his Alma mater, the University of Alabama, Pioli felt that despite a drop off in rushing stats the last two seasons in Baltimore; McClain was worth the risk.
Knowing that he'd be a free agent after the 2010 season, McClain spent the offseason trimming down to a compact 250 pounds. In Kansas City, he'll be a perfect compliment to All Pro Running Back Jamaal Charles in the Chiefs rushing attack. And over the next three weeks, it'll be interesting to see what will happen to veteran running back, Thomas Jones.
Jones struggled in short yardage situations a year ago and he wore down as the season progressed. So his roster spot at the moment, is anything but certain.
BR>We first heard wind of the Chiefs interest in McClain prior to the lockout. And, despite reports to the contrary in some media circles and blogs, Kansas City was in on McClain from the onset of free agency last week.
The delay in the Chiefs signing McClain once there was mutual interest, boiled down to dollars and cents. After Vonte Leach signed a three-year, $11 million contract with the Ravens, that set the market on fullbacks. However, few teams showed an interest in McClain and the Chiefs weren't willing to go that deep into years or dollars.
So McClain who was receiving mild interest from the Dallas Cowboys, had to make a decision. The Chiefs could sign him now but the Cowboys would need weeks to clear enough cap space to sign him to a similar deal.
Over the weekend as McClain was back in Alabama, the Chiefs and his agent, Todd Francis, began to push discussions towards getting a deal done. And on Wednesday afternon, McClain felt that Kansas City was his best chance to see regular playing time.
And to his credit, by agreeing to a short term deal with the Chiefs, he can work hard to convince Pioli to give him a long term deal by showing his value on the field in 2011. And if he can become the two in the one-two punch with Charles, then Kansas City would be wise to sign him beyond this season.
With the addition of McClain, this likely means that Shane Bannon, the Chiefs seventh round pick from Yale, will likely find a spot on special teams or he might develop into a short yardage specialist. But more than likely, he'll be a fixture on the Chiefs practice squad this season. This signing also means that veteran fullback Mike Cox isn't likely to make the teams final 53-man roster.
With McClain in the fold, Head Coach Todd Haley can use him as a back-up running back or a power fullback. Either way, opposing teams will have to be weary when both McClain and Charles are on the field at the same time. Because both can run the ball and catch the rock out of the backfield.
And that's precisely why the Chiefs spent months researching McClain because they became convinced, that he'd give their offense one more dimension.
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