According to Pro Football Focus, McClain is the seventh-best bargain in the NFL with a $2.8 million cap figure. Only Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis and Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas are better bargains.
PFF used its Jahnke Value Model, “which determines how much money a player should be counting against a team's cap for a year based on his abilities.”
In 12 games last season McClain was credited by the coaches with 108 tackles, two off the team lead held by Barry Church. McClain filled every defensive stat line except a fumble recovery. He had one sack, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures, two interceptions, five pass deflections and a forced fumble. He made $700,000 last year after his trade from the Baltimore Ravens to the Cowboys.
So how did the Cowboys get him to agree to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million after such a season? PFF has McClain worth $8 million a year.
As head coach Jason Garrett likes to say about playing quarterback for the Cowboys, there’s a lot that comes with the dinner when it comes to McClain.
There is no denying his talent. With no offseason training and little practice time in camp, he had a tremendous season and was the Cowboys’ best defensive playmaker. He brought a presence to the defense that it lacked.
But he didn’t practice as much as the coaches would have liked. The first four weeks of his paycheck will go to the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and another failed test would lead to a four-game suspension.
He visited with the New England Patriots but opted to remain with the Cowboys. He knows them. They know him. He had knee surgery in the offseason, chose to do his rehab in Alabama and was not at the voluntary organized team activities. Last week Garrett said he wasn’t sure if McClain would be at this week’s mandatory minicamp.
If McClain produces this season the way he did last year, then the Cowboys will be able to live with all that comes with the dinner.
After all, it would be a bargain.