ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with Jameel McClain #53 after McClain sacked quarterback Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams during the game on September 25, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain is a classic example of thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After being an undrafted free agent out of the University of Syracuse in 2008, McClain was the only undrafted rookie to make the Ravens roster. By 2010 he became the starter and lines up next to Ray Lewis as the team's two starting inside linebackers.
When the opportunity to hit the open market arose, McClain had visions of a huge paycheck as the next great Ravens linebacker to hit it big on free agency. For a while, it looked like he might just get that lump sum of cash, as he was brought in for a visit by the Denver Broncos, who had two free agent inside linebackers on the open market as well.
Unfortunately for McClain, both Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard re-signed with the Broncos recently. Both guys are four-year veterans like McClain but their familiarity with the defense and chemistry as returning veterans trumped whatever interest the Broncos apparently had in McClain.
With no current suitor courting Jameel, he might be smart to get back in the good graces of the Ravens before they either sign another free agent to take his place or draft one next month. He could still lose his job to Dannell Ellerbe, whom the team thought enough of to place a second-round tender on him. Ellerbe has a similar history as McClain, being the only undrafted rookie in 2009 to make the team's roster.
As it appears, if McClain re-signs with the Ravens, odds are he will return to the starting lineup in 2012. However, with Ellerbe right there as compitition and motivation, the Ravens could still easily draf an inside linebacker with the thought that the pick could ultimately replace Ray Lewis at some point in the future when he chooses to retire.
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Come home, Jameel McClain.