The Ravens made it official Friday, signing former Oakland Raiders starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain to a one-year contract with a maximum value of $1.1 million after he passed his mandatory physical.
The contract carries a base salary of $700,000 with another $400,000 in a playing time incentive clause for a maximum value of $1.1 million, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
Prior to signing his contract, McClain met with general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh at team headquarters to discuss their expectations for him.
The Super Bowl champions formally announced the deal in low-key fashion without issuing any statements from team officials or McClain, a former Butkus Award winner and consensus All-American at Alabama.
McClain had major legal problems while with the Raiders that were resolved on appeal after initially being convicted of a series of misdemeanors before reaching a financial settlement with the alleged victim, a former high school classmate. The 23-year-old was suspended two games last season for conduct detrimental to the team, punishment stemming from an argument with coach Dennis Allen when he was demoted from the starting lineup.
McClain was released by the Raiders a week ago and cleared waivers.
The move to acquire the Raiders' 2010 first-round draft pick and eighth overall selection was met with approval by Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb. Like McClain, Webb grew up in Alabama.
"I haven't met him, but I'm a Roll Tide fan so I know exactly who Rolando is and what he's about," Webb told The Baltimore Sun. "Once he gets into our locker room and we lead by example and show him how we do things, it will be a great thing for him. He's a young man and he has so far to grow.
"Not taking nothing away from Oakland, I know the organization we have and the people we have in our locker room, it's going to be a great fit for him."
The timing for adding the 6-foot-4, 259-pounder gets him on the roster prior to the start of the Ravens' offseason conditioning program Monday and provides him time to get acclimated to a new locker room and learn defensive coordinator Dean Pees' playbook.
The Ravens' inside linebacker depth has been impacted by Ray Lewis' retirement and Dannell Ellerbe signing a $35 million free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins. Plus, Jameel McClain is still recovering from a spinal cord contusion.
McClain is familiar with the Ravens' 3-4 defensive scheme because he played in a similar system at Alabama for coach Nick Saban, who worked with Newsome for the original Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick.
In three NFL seasons, McClain has recorded 274 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, one safety and 23 pass deflections.
By acquiring McClain, the Ravens aren't necessarily locked into drafting an inside inebacker with the 32nd overall pick of the first round, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
"You're getting an inside 'backer who's relatively young with ability," Kiper said of McClain. "It's a big hole. Obviously, it's a key need are for them still to go with an inside linebacker. They need one, maybe two. It allows them not to have to force something. If there's not a player there, they don't have to have that need filled via the draft. Certainly, an inside linebacker would be at the top of the priority list."
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