While neither the Steelers nor many other teams are likely to claim soon-to-be-released Raiders LB Rolando McClain off waivers as soon as he's officially released, he could be a good free agent option for the linebacker-shallow Steelers.
The Oakland Raiders are set to release 2010 first round draft pick Rolando McClain in what appears to be another player taken by the old Raiders regime not fitting in with the new defense installed there.
McClain was taken off nickel duties earlier this season, and problems off the field severely damaged his reputation and stock within the Raiders organization.
One team's trash is another team's treasure, though, especially when it comes at the price of that trash.
McClain is young but experienced. He's athletic if not a bit more understated as a player than he should be. He may not be a great fit as a mike in Oakland's new defense, but, if he clears waivers (meaning no team claims his current contract making him a free agent), he may be an addition the Steelers might want to consider.
Looking at their inside linebacker situation, Larry Foote, who is having an outstanding season, is a free agent next year. Stevenson Sylvester is being groomed to replace him but injuries and a general inability to get on the field are still lingering. Rookie Sean Spence was given some work at the buck linebacker position this preseason, but he suffered a major knee injury in the team's final game.
As with any major injury, it's unclear whether the same kind of player the Steelers drafted will return when Spence hits the field in minicamp - assuming he's able to run on is knee by that point.
Both inside and outside linebacker positions have been noted as potential high draft priorities for the Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft. McClain's athleticism would be an upgrade over Foote's, and signing him as a free agent (they wouldn't make a waiver claim for him because it would force them to take his current contract, on which he's due $4 million in 2013) could immediately bolster depth at the position, provide an athletic option on special teams and give them time to help him learn the defense and compete for playing time in 2013.
It isn't likely, simply because the Steelers don't make moves like this, but what's even less likely is a team claiming him off waivers and agreeing to pay out his current contract. On the free agent market, he could be a quality addition if for no other reason than seeing if he couldn't thrive in a new defensive system.