The Cowboys have announced that projected starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended by the NFL for a substance abuse policy violation. Pending appeal, McClain will be eligible to return Week 5 when the team hosts the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The suspension means that McClain has now failed a fourth drug test in his career.
Just this past February, McClain was slapped with a four-game fine for his third failed drug test. The Cowboys signed McClain to a one-year prove-it deal this offseason, after seriously mulling the possibility of not bringing back the player many considered to be their best defender in 2014. Dallas only gave McClain a $500,000 signing bonus with a base salary of just $750k. The reason? The coaching staff was frustrated over not being able to rely on McClain to fully participate in practice during the season and wondered what a big contract would do to his commitment level. McClain has already retired twice from the NFL in his young career.
McClain has already missed out on an additional $250,000 in a workout bonus, after he missed all of OTAs rehabbing a late off-season knee scope in Alabama instead of with the team at Valley Ranch.
Per OverTheCap.com, he could’ve earned an additional $1.5 million in 16 gameday active roster bonuses, which will likely now be capped at 12 games ($1.125m). He also could have earned up to another $1 million for playing over 75% of Dallas’ defensive snaps, and that entire scale will likely be out the window now as well.
Combined with the eight game checks he will now miss ($375,000), this suspension and missed bonuses will cost McClain the opportunity to earn $2 million. This is pending confirmation on the assumption that his four-game fine will still stand after the suspension is levied.
McClain was signed in the offseason after the team lost Sean Lee to an ACL injury in 2014 OTAs. It was expected that he and Lee would form a formidable combination at linebacker for Dallas in 2015, but that will apparently have to wait before coming to fruition.