After watching McClain retire twice in a year's span without playing a game for the team, the Ravens traded the rights to the mercurial linebacker, plus a 2015 seventh-round pick, to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2015 sixth-rounder.
The Cowboys, who were looking for linebacker help after standout Sean Lee suffered a season-ending knee injury in an offseason workout, activated McClain from the reserve-retired list, and placed Lee on injured reserve.
McClain's agent, Pat Dye, said in a text message to The Baltimore Sun that McClain fully plans to play in 2014.
The 24-year-old, who hasn't played in an NFL game since late in the 2012 season, retired for the second time on April 21 just a couple of days after he struggled in a tryout with the Ravens at their training facility. The Ravens had activated him from the reserve-retired list after the former first-round pick voiced a desire to make a comeback after he spent the 2013 season working out at the University of Alabama, where he enjoyed a standout college career.
Following his second retirement announcement, McClain told ESPN that this one was final.
"I'm done," McClain said to ESPN in a text message. "If football made me complete I would play. But whenever I think of it my heart pulls me away from whatever reason."
The Ravens initially signed McClain in April 2013 to a one-year, $700,000 deal with $400,000 in playing time-based incentives, a contract that is now inherited by the Cowboys. Less than two weeks after the Ravens signed him, McClain was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest following a disturbance at a park in his hometown of Decatur, Ala.
It was his third arrest in a 16-month span as his legal issues led to his release by the Oakland Raiders. A couple of weeks later, McClain announced his retirement for the first time to focus on getting his personal life in order.
The 2015 sixth-round pick the Ravens got back from the Cowboys replaces the one that they traded in May when they moved back into the seventh round to select Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro (Wake Forest). They also traded a 2015 fifth-rounder to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for center Jeremy Zuttah and included a seventh-rounder in Tuesday's deal.
However, the Ravens have a 2015 seventh-rounder from the Miami Dolphins in last season's trade of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. They also should receive at least three compensatory picks for their free agent losses earlier this offseason.