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Does Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin Still Want Fomer Raiders LB Rolando McClain?


As soon as the Oakland Raiders waived linebacker Rolando McClain on Friday, I knew that several people would be hollering for the Pittsburgh Steelers to go after him.

A lot of the hollering for McClain by the fanbase stems from an article that Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News wrote back in December of 2009, right before Alabama played Florida.

Scabinsky wrote that then-Tennessee assistant coach Lance Thompson, who coached the Alabama linebackers during McClain’s first two college seasons, said that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who spoke at Tennessee’s spring clinic that year, asked him about McClain and asked him to give the linebacker a message the next time they spoke.

What was the message? "Tell him (McClain) he can be my Mike linebacker any day."

Ever since McClain was drafted eighth overall by the Raiders in 2009, he has been a huge disappointment both on and off the field. On the field, the former Butkus Award winner has registered just 6½ sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in 41 games since he was drafted. He has also been a huge liability in pass coverage.

Off the field, McClain has had a few run-ins with the law, as he was arrested this past January for the second time in just over a year for giving a false name to law enforcement while being stopped for a window tint violation. Previous to that incident, he was charged and found guilty of pointing a gun at a man and firing off a round next to his head. It should be noted, however, that those charges were eventually dropped after the victim told prosecutors he no longer wanted to pursue the case.

Late last November, McClain was suspended by Raiders head coach Dennis Allen for two games for conduct detrimental to the team after the two got into an argument during a practice. McClain immediately took to his Facebook page to air some dirty laundry.

"Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!" McClain followed that up with another post. "Well technically I am. But I’m mentally done. Just waiting on my papers. I’m gonna weigh my options. Looking forward to playing for an actual \'team.\' "

Those comments were then reportedly quickly deleted from the page not long after they were posted.

McClain played in a 3-4 defense while at Alabama, and many believe that is the type of system that he belongs in.

So does Tomlin still feel the same way about McClain that he felt four years ago? Last season, during his Tuesday press conference prior to the Week 3 game against the Raiders, Tomlin, who normally goes out of his way to make every player on the opposition sound like a Pro Bowler, didn\'t have much to say about McClain when he got to him in his rundown.

"Their (Raiders) linebacker core - McClain is of course a first rounder out of Alabama," said Tomlin. "Talented young guy."

That was all Tomlin had to say about McClain before moving on to mention fellow Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler and the rest of the players on the defense.

So was Tomlin\'s comments back in 2009 just lip service? If they were genuine, you would have to think that the Steelers head coach would be chomping at the bit to try every means possible to get McClain in Pittsburgh.

If by some chance, Tomlin actually still wanted McClain, the Steelers lack of cap space likely wouldn\'t allow it. With less than three weeks to go before the draft takes place, the Steelers have less than $2 million in cap space at their disposal. McClain was scheduled to earn $4.005 million in 2013, $5.805 million in 2014 and $2.665 million in 2015, so you can forget about the Steelers, or any other team for that matter, putting in a waiver claim for him. Should McClain clear waivers, he will become a free agent and at that point can sign with any team.

Do you think that McClain would be willing to take a very small two or three-year contract play in Pittsburgh? Also, do you think that he would be willing to back up Larry Foote for a season and play on special teams?

I don\'t.

McClain is a cancer who has yet to excel both on and off the field. After all the supposed problems that the Steelers had last year in their locker-room, do you really think that they would want to add a player such as McClain to the team?

I don\'t.

Sure, anything is possible; I suppose, but I for one would be surprised if Tomlin still wants McClain to be his Mike linebacker.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Chris92021

    I would say yes, definitely sign him to a 2 year deal that will be loaded with incentives. McClain is still young at 23 and we do need a ILB. If he screws up with us, then drop him like a bad habit and it won’t cost us much.

  • SteelersDepot

    You do know that a player has to agree to a deal, right? No way an agent lets that happen.

  • reg38

    Pass. Would fit right in w/ the Bengals.

  • RMSteeler

    The Raiders trash is about 30 team’s trash and two teams treasure. Leave him for bottom feeders. But, good luck to him. Hope he gets his life turned around.

  • mokhkw

    Usually would be worth at least kicking the tyres on McLain, but with the lack of cap space atm it hardly seems worth it. If he’s still without a team in June/July then it may be worth looking at if he can be gotten cheap but I think another team with lots of cap space will step in by that time.

  • David Edward

    After Ta’amu and Rainey from last year’s class, this would be a good time for the Steelers to stay away from any character issue guys.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I feel sorry for him. Actually I feel sorry for anyone drafted by the Raiders. There are a few teams in the league that destroy a young players spirit and determination to play the game it was meant to be played. The Raiders are definitely in that category. Who knows what McClain could have been if coached up and put in a system he could have thrived in.

  • Chris O’Rorke

    For one this kid was in the Black Hole. That’s worse than Cincinnati. Two he has more tackles than Foote the past three years combined and almost had 100 tackles (99) two years ago. You take a negative stance when presenting his stats bc you dont like him. He is a ILB so he wont have many sacks (same as Foote last three years) and he can cover 10X better than Foote. Obviously didnt play in every game last year and having zero talent around him hurt his production. He’s 23 years old and made some mistakes. I for one prefer to have talent on the team as opposed to declining veterans like Foote. Tomlin said hes a “very talented guy”. How is that not showing an admiration for his skills? As for character guys we seem to forget Mike Adams was this “red flag” guy that ppl seem to forget. Production makes you forget any flaw in any player. So with Ta’amu still on the team and Rainey failing I would say these so called “gambles” have not blown up in our face. 2/3 isnt that bad. Rainey famously said “time to die b*tch” so any problem and he was gone. Not all these guys grew up in the same environment. A guy like Janoris Jenkins was this “red flag” guy that turned out well and I foresee Tyrann turning out the same way. If you have a whole bunch of stiffs on your team than that is what you will be. Success is a funny thing you look at this terrible guy like Randy Moss and in a good locker room he turned out great. Pittsburgh is a place with a strong FO and locker room like NE where he can succeed. As for cap space I call erroneous. Considering displacement they could still offer him a cap hit of 2M year one. A three year deal for like 9-10M sounds like good value to me. A roster bonus year two to reduce risk if he turns out to be this “bad guy” which he won’t on or off the field. If he wanted more losing Sanders, which I still see as very possible adds 1.323 to cap. McClain is a “Very talented guy”. Bottom line

  • Chris92021

    Of course he does. We will see if he wants to come to us. Who knows if the market for McClain will be high. If it is, so be it.

  • Jollyrob68

    I think Tomlin can help him as a Football player & to be a man. He made stupid mistakes and wasn’t used properly. Have him earn a contract by giving him a 1yr deal with a team option.It cant hurt to give him a shot and if he wants to prove hmself he’ll rise to the occasion.

  • Jollyrob68

    They knew Raine was trouble before they drafted him. Ta”Amy got dry.k ans made a stupid mistake. Some people want to give the Honey badger a chance so why not a ilb The Steelers would I’d drafted?

  • Jollyrob68

    And like Vontez will be a thorn in The Steelers side. Give him a shot to grow up ans become the player he should have become.

  • Jollyrob68

    If he wants to play for Tomlin he’d do it to prove himself.

  • zyzak

    I wonder if Tomlin is capable of evaluating talent

  • Tom

    “I don’t believe in football intelligence and being dumb off the field,”

    “Hit me in the head with a hammer the next time I want to draft a dumb guy,”

    -Jimmy Johnson

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    his agent won’t have a choice if he wants to get paid… there’s a lot better players than he out there now without contracts… or maybe he can use his “degree” from nick saban, haha

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    the Bengals who are ahead of us now and other than QB are way more talented, thanks to drafting good football players?… those Bengals?

  • Kenneth Wilt

    To me this is a due diligence type decision. I am not suggesting you sign him, I am suggesting you sit down and talk with him. Tell him how things would have to change for him, what you would be willing to pay, and what his role on the team would be….special teams and backup. You then work him out and see what he can do. If you determine you want to sign him, you make it a small not guaranteed contract and let the decision up to him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Please get rid of Tomlin…he had a few good years with Cowher’s players but it’s obvious this guy can’t build a team…

  • rizzo29

    This is from a guy who wants to trade Ben, for Josh freeman

  • rizzo29

    Steeler,s need to stop going after these questionable character player,s. Let,s get back to good moral guy,s on and off the field, a real Steeler player.

  • Addison

    I think the steelers were trying to squeeze in one more Super Bowl run. They know that window has closed now. In 2-3 years we will be praising Tomlin for his coaching. He’s only has so much say. Colbert, Dick, And Todd are all responsible. If anything steelers would be a 4-3 defense if it was completely his. I don’t see anyone else out there I would want as the steelers coach.

  • Superdriller316

    If you look back, Tomlin took over an 8-8 team. Colbert brought in those players that went to SB XL and he also brought in the players that went to SB XLIII, and SB XV. It’s the GM’s job to get the talent. So if your going to point fingers, point them in the right direction.

    I’m so sick of hearing about Cowher’s players. What was Tomlin supposed to do? Cut all players on the roster? Get real and grow up. Tomlin is the coach and there ain’t shit you can do about it. Unless your ARII, get over it. By the way, Cowher went to two SB’s in 14 years, Tomlin’s been to two in 6 years.

  • David Edward

    SInce they knew Rainey and Ta’amu had prior incidents it makes them look bad that the warning signs were there that it would happen again. What kind of message does it give to fans, particularly kids, if they continue to draft (or sign guys) with character issues?

  • hergieburbur

    Very few players “want” to play for a coach/team so badly to take a deal like that, and the ones that do are usually on the back side of their careers and have already been paid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    So you are saying that Tomlin has no input on who the team drafts? Get real douche bag. Look at the roster that we have now, we have missed on so many draft picks since Tomlin took over it’s not funny. You are saying that’s all Colbert’s fault? BTW, he took over a team that was 1 year removed from winning the Super Bowl and a team that went 15-1 the year before that! Tomlin did go to the SB with COWHER’S PLAYERS!!! I give him 3 more years max as the Steelers head coach.

  • rizzo29

    I agree with you, there,s no sense in talking to some of these people,for some unknown reason they believe Tomlin is such wonderful coach,like I said he was along for the ride in those Super Bowl runs

  • Superdriller316

    Feel free to apply for his job, since you know so much. Let me know how you make out. I need a good laugh. Well better than the crap your writing. Are you one of the ones that are mad cause Wiz didn’t get the job? If so, news flash, he sucks and got fired. Or are you mad cause he’s black?

  • Superdriller316

    Hey dumb ass, yeah he has input and so doesn’t ARII, the GM, and the rest of the coaching staff. It’s Kevin who makes the call.

    Yeah, they went 15-1, then 11-5 and won the SB, then went 8-8. Tomlin came in and went 10-6, 12-4 SB win, 9-7, 12-4 SB loss, 12-4, 8-8.

    So genius, at what point does it become Tomlin’s team? Here’s a news flash for you. The Steelers don’t fire HC’s. If you don’t like it, no one cares. Go be a Rat Bird fan.

  • Brendon Glad

    Agree completely, Mr. Bryan. In the history of my 36 years as a Steelers fan, when has: “well he couldn’t play LB for the Raiders, but he COULD play LB for the Steelers” EVER worked as a solid idea for a fan/media member/personnel person?

    I actually racked my brain before I hit “send” trying to think if someone would make me look stupid on an oversight for the comment. Couldn’t find one.

  • Brendon Glad

    I’m putting my money on Cincinnati or Detroit as his next training camp. Aside from team needs…and with little knowledge of his pro football acumen, his off-the-field profile certainly fits in well.
    But boy-howdy…if OAKLAND gives up on you, it’s gonna be rough-sledding for the man.

  • Brendon Glad

    I agree…if there are any character-issue guys that the Steelers take a shot on…then I’d prefer it be Tyronn Mathieu…not a guy who has proven that he can’t hack it as a LB with the Raiders. But I’m perfectly happy with as close to ZERO character-issue guys as possible. That seems to have worked well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    You are a angry little person…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Couldn’t agree more..

  • Superdriller316

    No I’m not. One thing that I am is, is right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    think again pal

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    did u really pull out the race card? What a loser!

  • Superdriller316

    Prove me wrong

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    BTW, maybe you are defending him because he’s black!

  • Superdriller316

    No, he’s the 4th fastest coach in history to hit 60 wins. He is also the youngest coach to win a SB and has never had a losing season. If he’s so bad, who should be his replacement?

    Here’s another tidbit for you.
    Kevin Colbert (born January 1957 in Pittsburgh) is the general manager of the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers since the start of 2000. He is widely credited with putting together the Super Bowl XL team in Pittsburgh along with owner Dan Rooney and coach Bill Cowher. Who’s responsible for bringing in the talent?

  • Superdriller316

    I love watching people making a fool of themselves.

  • kyle

    Cowher took over in 1992 and went to a Super Bowl in 1995, in his fourth year. Tomlin took over in 2007 and went to Super Bowls in 2008 and 2010, his second and fourth years. Was Cowher having good years with Noll’s players? Has Tomlin had three consecutive losing seasons like Cowher did? Has Tomlin drafted Alonzo Jackson (Cowher wanted him in the first), Willie Reid (Cowher wanted him in the first), Ricardo Colclough?
    Through their first six years they are actually very close as far as regular season wins (I think Tomlin is slightly ahead).
    If you want Tomlin fired (he won’t be), please suggest alternatives and don’t name anybody already on the Steelers coaching staff, they don’t do that.

  • rizzo29

    Pulling the race card that,s real classy,I expected more from a steeler,s fan.Were all in the same boat here wanting them to win.God forbid we criticized the head coach, he,s for the most part has gone free of negativity since his hiring. Now that the talent has been deleted will see how great of a coach he is, we saw a small sample of that last year.I hope i,m wrong but either way I,m a steeler,s fan till the end.

  • Superdriller316

    It’s you all pointing fingers at the black guy and not the white guy. I’m just pointing it out. Everyone wants to blame the HC for the talent, but no one wants to blame the GM or the owner. Why is that? Are you going to blame the coach for players coming to camp out of shape? He took an 8-8 team back to the SB and won. By the way Colbert is credited for putting the SB XL team together with ARII and Cowher. When was the last time Tomlin had a losing season? Let me help you out. NEVER! The Rooney’s seem to like him and they don’t fire HC’s, so he’s here for as long as he wants to be. I’m pretty sure that he could care less about what you think. You don’t sign his paycheck. If you don’t buy a ticket someone else will.

    What you saw last year was a lack of leadership in the locker room. These players have to be treated like royalty due to that crappy CBA. Coaches can’t put these players to the test because they will go cry to the Union. Then when the players don’t preform on the field, we blame th HC and not the players. Go figure. If the HC pulls a player, it’s the coaches fault too. If your going to point fingers, make sure you point them in the right direction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Cowher took over a god awful team from Noll…it’s not even close to the same thing. Nice try though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Looking in the mirror?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Colbert along with Cowher brought in great talent. It’s not happening with Tomlin. All the great players that were already on the team when Tomlin was hired are now old or retiring. They are not being replaced like they were in the past. The main difference is the head coach. Who fucking cares if he’s black…(well I guess you do since you seem to love to point it out)

    Here is the 2008 Draft – all busts

    First Round: Rashard Mendenhall, RB

    Second Round: Limas Sweed, WR

    Third Round: Bruce Davis, LB

    Fourth Round: Tony Hills, T

    Fifth Round: Dennis Dixon, WR

    Sixth Round: Mike Humpal, LB

    Seventh Round: Ryan Mundy, DB

    Peace out

  • kyle

    Actually he took over a 7-9 team that was two seasons removed from going to the divisional round of the playoffs.
    Were you hoping Cowher would get fired when the team had three losing seasons in a row? If you were, it’s a good thing the Rooneys didn’t agree with you since he won a Super Bowl a few years later.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    Mike Tomlin inherited a much better team than both Noll and Cowher when they started coaching. Noll was assigned to a franchise of perennial losers before he built them into an NFL dynasty. Bill Cowher took over for Noll when it was clear that the legendary, four-time Super Bowl champion no longer provided an audible message to his players.

    Noll and Cowher built up the Super Bowl champions. Mike Tomlin inherited a legendary defense with an elite quarterback, all of whom were just entering their prime.

  • kyle

    You weren’t talking about the “overall sense of the team” you were talking about how the team was two years removed from winning a Super Bowl although had most recently gone 8-8. If Cowher is allowed to go 8-8 why isn’t Tomlin? Cowher took over a team that won a playoff game two years before and then went 7-9. If you are suggesting that those situations are not similar then I guess we just disagree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1386312652 Drew Krotzer

    You can’t tell me that Cowher inherited the same quality team that Tomlin did…not even close. Anyway that;s my opinion and I do respect yours…in the end we both just want the Steelers to win right?

  • David Edward

    Wow! Drew and Superdriller, that’s some intense emotion there. If only Worilds can harness some of your passion. Actually, I think the best way to settle this is like they did in the XFL…throw out a ball and let you guys scrum for it. Anyway, save the anger for the Brownies, Bungles, Criminals (Ravens), or the Patsies and remember we all bleed black and gold.

  • Superdriller316

    I see your not bringing up Cowher’s first round busts or any other busts that were drafted when he was HC. If I’m not mistaken Mundy, Dixon, and Mendy are still playing. Just because they didn’t work out for us doesn’t mean they are a bust.

    Better work a little harder than ” look in the mirror “.
    When you become the GM, then you can try and fire Tomlin.

  • rizzo29

    LIke you said I could care less what color he is,but that alway,s has to be brought up when any criticism of Tomlin has been made, Some of these post people are taking way to personally.Are getting the feeling like were talking to his relatives.I,m sure you,ll agree when Cowher was the coach you had criticized him for some of the things he did,’I know I did’.i;e Keeping Kordell in way to long as starter.It was best for him to go when he did the team was becoming stale and probably starting to tune him out.This season will be interesting they have a pretty tough schedule will see how great of a coaching job he does, Black and Gold till the end. P;S don,t criticize him he,s black

  • Chris92021

    OK, I am OK with other members of Steeler Nation criticizing the head coach. After all, it s a rite of passage for all. However, if you want to get rid of Coach Tomlin, who do you want to replace him with? Me personally, there are maybe 3 guys I would bring in to replace Coach Tomlin (Belichick, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Payton) and both of those guys are pretty secure in their respective jobs. I would never advocate to get rid of someone just for the sake of getting rid of them.

  • rizzo29

    Curious when the 3 losing seasons in a row were, that,s news to me

  • Superdriller316

    Ok what about the 2006 draft class?
    1) Santonio Holmes WR. 4 years and traded. Why? Busted for drugs and a problem in the locker room. He was a SB MVP. I guess the risk was greated than the reward. BUST
    3) Anthony Smith DB. 3 years and gone. BUST
    3) Willie Reid WR. 2 years and gone. BUST
    4) Willie Colon G. 6 years and 3 on IR. Cut. BUST
    4) Orien Harris DT. WHO? Cut. BUST
    5) Omar Jacobs QB. WHO? Cut BUST
    5) Charles Davis TE. WHO? Cut BUST
    6) Marvin Philip C. WHO? Cut BUST
    7) Cedric Humes RB. WHO? Cut BUST

    If your going to rip on someone for a bust of a draft class make sure the one that your defending hasn’t done the same.

    You keep saying how bad Tomlin is, but never once have said who should have gotten the job. You want to make general statements, well lets be specific. What is your beef with Tomlin? And no race means nothing to me, it’s the best person for the job. To think that there isn’t racism in the US is just absurd. So when you blame one third of the people responsible for drafting and bringing in FA talent, and the one being blamed is black and the other two are white, well your just asking for someone to ask if its a racial thing. Now if you want to blame the organization as a whole that’s a different story.

  • Chris92021

    I think he meant to say three non-playoff seasons (1998, 1999, 2000).

  • kyle

    Yeah. My mistake. They were 6-10, 7-9, and 9-7. I forgot that that 2000 was a game above .500

  • charles

    Fish for him with a 2 mil contract that has achievement bonus. Foote as backup on passing down because Maclain is a liability on passing downs. But, it would be a formidablee inside tandem with Timmons and Maclain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pravin-Ratnam/671010792 Pravin Ratnam

    You do realize Cowher didnt want to draft Big Ben. He wanted to take Shawn Andrews. So much for your theory.

  • http://twitter.com/Johnny_Loose Johnny Loose

    These people calling for Tomlin’s head make me sick. The man was the youngest head coach to ever win a superbowl. He’s young and there will be growning pains. I seriously wish some of you so called ‘Steeler fans’ would pick a different team. I guess Pittsburgh isn’t warm enough year round for you fair-weather fans. Tomlin is more of a man than half of you nancys who wouldn’t be able to manage the Steelers’ roster on a game of Madden. If it’s so bad, grab you a life jacket and jump ship already. #GoSteelers

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    I agree with you

  • http://twitter.com/rectorj39 JDR

    he wanted Rivers… the best part of superbowl xl was when we got the lead, Ben said to Cohwer “dont start this play not to lose crap” which was then followed by the trick play td to Hines
    Cowher notoriously played “not to lose” way too many times and probably cost us a couple more SB trips… the jets playoff game was perfect example, the jets were coached by another schottenheimer clone Herm Edwards who kept matching Cowher’s gutless play not to lose scheme himself and played not lose just enough to also not win… a 10 point lead for a Cowher team and Bill practically punted on 3rd down

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    hmmmm, make a play for Rolando in FA or Draft Mauti in the 5th or 6th…I will take Mauti please.

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