Former Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain, who met with the Giants last week after he was released by the Ravens on Feb. 27, has signed a two-year deal with New York.
The deal capped a bittersweet two weeks for McClain. Who also drew interest from Buffalo and Minnesota before choosing the Giants.
“It was a mixture of surprise and disappointment,” McClain said in a statement released by the team.
“You learn with more time in this league that it’s a business and sometimes they make business decisions that most people don’t understand. It just was one of those things that was like, ‘Dust yourself off and try again.’”
McClain will presumably fill the strong side linebacker spot, which was vacated when Keith Rivers signed a two-year deal with the Bills.
“It’s an opportunity,” McClain said. “I believe in opportunity and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Now I get a chance to re-create myself. I get a chance to re-create my own identity without being placed with any label.
“No disrespect to anything that I’ve been through or anybody anywhere else, but when you get into this position you have to choose the best for your family, the best for your career, the best for your longevity. This was one of those circumstances for me where I could come here and create myself and compete and be the player that I want to be or the player that I can be.”
McClain said the Giants’ rich history was a big draw for him as was the team’s proximity to his extended family.
“I love this organization. I love the tradition here. The players are amazing,” he said. “Being close to home is very important. I’m a family man, I have a lot of nieces and nephews that I need to be next to. It’s a great opportunity for me, in all honesty.”
McClain has played in 87 regular-season games with 55 starts and in 9 postseason games with 3 starts. In six seasons with Baltimore, he posted 338 tackles (214 solo), 4.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries. He also had 60 special teams tackles.
Last year in the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, the versatile McClain started all 10 games at weak-side linebacker after he was activated off the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Oct. 19 following a neck injury. He finished the season with 50 tackles (27 solo) and a forced fumble.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of a golden nugget,” McClain said. “I’m all the way there. Every time that I get a little itch, God always slaps me in the back of the head and says, ‘Jameel, you’ve got a long way to go.’ I signed a little deal and then after that I got hurt, that was God slapping me on the back on the head.
“Once I came back from that injury then I get cut, so that’s God slapping me on the back of the head again, just saying, ‘Your job is to be the underdog.’ For the world to see that the underdog can make it possible, that’s my destination, that’s going to be my journey. I know it and I accept it.”
He’s also hoping that his journey takes him to a Super Bowl, especially since he missed out on the Ravens’ 2012 championship run.
“I missed that, so I really don’t have a ring,” he said. “I feel I have a chance to win one with his organization. Winning is everything. If you’re in this game, you should only be playing to win and to compete. Without that, what are we left with? A bunch of numbers on the board? It really doesn’t mean anything.
“I play this game to win, I play this game for respect and this organization does that at the highest level. I’m happy to be a part of it.”