Not right time for Ravens, Rolando McClain

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
8:00
AM ET
Retired inside linebacker Rolando McClain is reportedly targeting a return to the NFL, but you have to wonder if his comeback will be with the Baltimore Ravens, who still own his contractual rights.

I didn't like the Ravens' decision to sign McClain 11 months ago, and I wouldn't recommend keeping him now with the team's recent off-the-field troubles.

McClain
The Ravens had three players arrested in a 22-day span. McClain was arrested three times in an 11-month span. This isn't exactly the right time for the Ravens to take on a reclamation project. Actually, it would be the worst time for the Ravens to bring in someone who has so many red flags in regards to character.

It's definitely tempting to allow him to come to minicamps and training camps to see what he can do. McClain is 24 years old. He was the No. 8 overall pick of the 2010 draft. He's a bargain at a one year and $700,000. From a football standpoint, it makes perfect sense to suit him up.

From an image standpoint, it's a gamble to keep McClain considering every big story involving the Ravens over the past month (besides the Dennis Pitta signing) has been linked to the police blotter. Some suggest McClain just needs to stay out of his hometown of Decatur, Ala., where all three of his arrests happened in less than a year. But you have to wonder why he continually went back to the one place where trouble occurred. If anything, you have to question his decision-making.

McClain has been arrested for firing a gun next to someone's head, writing an expletive on a police citation instead of his real name and inciting a crowd by shouting expletives at police. His last arrest came 10 days after signing a contract with the Ravens last year. He decided to retire in May because he was worried he would do something he would regret.

"I felt like Aaron Hernandez, like I just wanted to kill somebody," McClain said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine.

Now, 10 months later, a source close to McClain told the Carroll County (Md.) Times that the linebacker "is in a better place mentally."

Hopefully, this is true. Hopefully, McClain has got his life back in order. But the Ravens don't need to that risk, especially after running back Ray Rice was arrested in a domestic violence incident and backup guard Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor counts of battery following an altercation at a strip club.

If everything goes according to plan, the Ravens aren't in desperate need of an inside linebacker. Baltimore is banking on Daryl Smith re-signing and second-round pick Arthur Brown stepping into a starting role in his second season. Both backups, Albert McClellan and Josh Bynes, have experience as starters.

Perhaps if this was a year or two down the road, the timing might be better for the Ravens and McClain. Right now, the timing couldn't be worse.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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