Read the comments so far, and can't say that I identify with any of them. In fact, I find most of them repulsive. And almost uniformly lacking in insight. As I continued reading elsewhere, it became clear the tone is near universal in the Raven following (i.e. articles and comments on Russell Street Report etc).
From the most basic, Ravens-centric perspective: the Ravens still own the rights to McClain's labor in the National Football League. This was and remains a zero-cost move for the Ravens and there's still only upside from a team perspective. Pro Football Focus has particularly noted him as a difference-making run-stopper, at the very least.
Ultimately, the Ravens know less than they'd like to about McClain at this point. He's only been a Raven a few weeks/months and mostly away from the team and its headquarters. It seems likely in hindsight that 2013 Rolando McClain would not have been the best candidate for a roster spot. This pre-training camp move saves the Ravens the opportunity cost of camp reps that will now go elsewhere. Indications point to McClain taking a year to sort his life out and then returning to his football career. This is a wise and--dare I say it? Forgivable? move for a 23-year old that the much-ballyhooed talent evaluators in and around the NFL virtually unanimously agreed was blessed with enormous talent.
More to the point for you other posters, this could actually be great for the Ravens as, if he decides to return, McClain will be eligible for training camp with the Ravens next year, at which time the organization will know much more about him. Even more importantly the Ravens, as a classy organization, have offered to “be a resource” for McClain even through his “retirement” to get themselves a quality player out of this, all of which costs nothing out of the salary cap. Not all “player development” happens in training camp or the weight room.
I'm just shocked at the negativity and the schadenfreude and all the other ugliness in the comments on this news. I expect it elsewhere on the web but I'm surprised at the level of it here. I'm not saying he's a great guy, I might hate him if I had to spend any amount of time around him, but I'm not just going to judge him. If I had to guess, I'd say that there's a certain type of “bust” in the NFL that comes from being unable to separate football as a profession from the rest of one's life, which I'm guessing is easier said than done. Regardless of everything else, if you've read up on Jamarcus Russell, it seems that for much of his contracted career football was at best the #3 thing he was concerned about—lots of things happen in life and in your early 20s they can seem very serious at the time. Sound familiar to anyone?
Everyone's genius advice to McClain is to stay away from his hometown in Decatur. Right: the place where most of his friends and—oh yeah—his family are? Again, easier said than done, and it seems that no one's stopped for long to think about the nuances of how difficult a commitment that is. Would you want to leave your family and your friends and your home on the advice of your employer? Actually you'd probably resent the advice.
Well, I'm guessing that being out of football, McClain's going to be spending quite a bit of time in Decatur, where he'll either figure his life out or he won't, and the Ravens will be able to make a more informed decision on him next year. And I will be rooting for him to make an epic comeback. Because I'm a Ravens fan, for one, and it'd be good for the team, but also because I'm just not the kind of person to snipe at people from a keyboard for no apparent reason. When McClain was signed, he of course deflected comparisons to Ray Lewis, saying that instead of filling Ray's shoes, he wanted to fill his own first. I really liked that perspective, and he has a lot of work to do, but he can still fill out some very big shoes indeed if he puts it all together, and I hope he reaches his potential, which is why I root for so many players.
They don't just hand out football scholarships at Alabama to snotty kids because they whine a lot. McClain has put in an incredible amount of hard work throughout his life to get to the NFL, regardless of any immaturity or perceived laziness at the pro level. I think he deserves another shot to make good on that work.