The Raiders don't have to make any big decisions on this right away. It's very likely there will be no announcements on the NFL status of Rolando McClain, not immediately.
And that became clear on Monday when McClain showed up at the team's OTA, even though it was only last week that the Raiders middle linebacker was found guilty of several gun-related charges and hit with a 180-day sentence in Alabama.
McClain will appeal the verdict, his lawyer says, and it's unclear how many days he'd have to serve of this sentence, anyway.
It's also unclear how many games McClain might miss, either via the jail sentence or subsequent NFL suspension for straying away from the code of conduct.
But if we go by what new GM Reggie McKenzie and new coach Dennis Allen have consistently said since arriving here as the faces and voices of the new Raiders, the ultimate decision seems clear:
McClain actions and his spotty play so far have shown that he's the polar opposite of the kinds of players McKenzie and Allen want in their locker room, and McClain should be gone from this team before the start of the 2012 season.
Maybe it'll happen in training camp, when the Raiders know they have replacements ready to go.
Maybe it'll happen before that. Somewhere in there, unless this incident immediately sets McClain on a clean new path—and there is evidence of this—McClain should be an ex-Raider.
This is a new Raiders team, not
If you're looking to re-establish those things, how does McClain fit into that? He doesn't.
The Raiders can do better than McClain—there are players who can play that position, who don't get into trouble off the field, and who may not be as talented as McClain, but who are more reliable and productive.
Maybe the Raiders used to think they had to marry themselves to raw talent, no matter the inconsistencies, the price tag and the character issues.
Remember, Hue Jackson (acting unilaterally as the chief of football operations at the time) decided to let McClain play days after the incident last year.
That can't be the case now.
I'm not saying McClain is a terrible person. I don't know if he is or isn't. I'm saying that a person who gets into this kind of trouble—and plays as erratically as he has in his Raiders career—is not someone who has proven he can be counted on.
In the NFL, the good players are the accountable players.
McClain just hasn't been a very good player—or citizen—and certainly seems replaceable in the near and distant future.
If you're counting on players like McClain, you're asking for errors and defeats.
— This is how Comcast's Paul Gutierrez put it: It's time for the Raiders to move on from their 2010 No. 1 draft pick.
— This is Monte Poole's take on the issues facing the Raiders and McClain.
— And this is Dennis Allen speaking to me a few weeks ago on the importance of faith and high character in what he and McKenzie are building:
"Here's what I think, I think we're going to take into account football character and off-field character. We want good guys on this team, all right?
Now, we're not looking for a team full of choir boys. But we are looking for guys that are going to be dependable on the field and that we can also depend on off the field, that aren't going to be involved in a lot of personal issues and a lot of personal trouble.
I think that kind of goes hand in hand. Usually guys of good character, there's a faith-based background to the way they were brought up."