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Cowboys have dibs on Rolando McClain, at $5 million for one year

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has embraced the reality of Ezekiel Elliott likely missing Week 1 as Dallas prepares for the New York Giants with Tony Pollard as the starter.

The NFL has conditionally reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain, after three years out of the league due to a substance-abuse policy suspension. When he officially returns (per a league source, the effective date is Tuesday, September 3), the Cowboys will have dibs on the man who entered the league as the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Despite some initial confusion as to whether McClain is a Cowboy or a free agent, both the league and the NFL Players Association agree that McClain remains under contract with the Cowboys. The first order of business for the Cowboys will be to decide whether to keep McClain, whose contract carries a base salary of $5 million for the upcoming season.

Whatever they do, the Cowboys will need to do it fairly quickly. As of Tuesday, McClain will land on their roster (if he passes a physical), and they’ll have to make a move to keep the roster at 53. While it seems like a longshot that they’d welcome him back with open arms given the suddenness with which he was reinstated (and given the amount of his salary), the bottom line is that the Cowboys will have to decide whether to keep him. If they choose not to, he’ll become a free agent.