Troubled inside linebacker Rolando McClain informed Ravens officials Wednesday that he will retire from the NFL, a decision he reached before participating in one practice with his new team.
McClain signed with the Ravens on April 12, was arrested just nine days later and then made the surprising decision Wednesday to call it quits on his playing career at the age of 23. Taken eighth overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2010 draft, McClain played just three seasons, his career marred by on-field inconsistency and off-the-field legal issues.
“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a written statement. “We have placed him on the reserved/retired list.”
Newsome had downplayed the McClain signing all along, saying only that the former University of Alabama standout was “getting an opportunity to come and make our 53-man squad. That’s it.”
After McClain was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on April 21 — his third arrest in a little more than 16 months — Newsome was noncommittal about his status with the team. As it was, McClain’s legal issues already had his standing under league review with the possibility of potential discipline.
Now, his retirement takes the decision out of the Ravens’ hands and doesn’t cost them anything. McClain signed a one-year, $700,000 deal that included no guaranteed money.
It does leave the Ravens thin at inside linebacker following the retirement of Ray Lewis, the free agent departure of Dannell Ellerbe and the release of Brendon Ayanbadejo. Jameel McClain, the most experienced holdover at the position, is also still rehabbing a serious spinal cord injury but the team has gotten positive reports about his status.
The Ravens also traded up in the second round of last month’s draft to select Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, who is expected to get an opportunity to earn the starting job, possibly alongside Jameel McClain if he is healthy. Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan and Bryan Hall will also vie for playing time at inside linebacker.
For Rolando McClain, if this is indeed it, he’ll finish his career with 274 career tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in 41 career games with the Raiders. Considered the top linebacker in the 2010 draft, McClain’s talent never translated to the NFL. He lost his starting job at one point last season and Raiders coach Dennis Allen even suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team.
However, McClain’s biggest problems were always off the field, most occurring in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. His most serious charge came last May when McClain was convicted in municipal court of third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and illegal discharge of a firearm in the city limits. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail for allegedly threatening to kill a man and discharging a gun next to his head during a fight two years ago. However, charges were dismissed upon appeal after the accuser told prosecutors that he didn’t want to go forward with the case.
In January, McClain was arrested following a routine traffic stop and charged with a window tint violation and providing false information to police. The linebacker allegedly refused to sign his real name on the citation, choosing instead to write “[Expletive] y’all.” McClain pleaded guilty last week to the window tint violation and agreed to pay a $186 fine in exchange for the city dismissing the false information charge.
His latest arrest came in April after Decatur police responded to a reported disturbance at a local park. While officers tried to disperse the crowd, McClain allegedly yelled an expletive about the police toward the crowd and then twice pulled his arms away from officers as they tried to arrest him. He was released from jail after posting a $1,000 bond and was due in court on those charges on July 9.
McClain also has two other outstanding charges on reckless driving and failing to provide proof of insurance. The settlement date is set for June 20.
The linebacker made $22.85 million in guaranteed money as per the rookie contract he signed with the Raiders before the 2010 season.
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson contributed to this article.