Terrell McClain remained in the NFC East after a career year in 2016, joining the Washington Redskins after three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.
Terrell McClain was admittedly a little uneasy entering free agency after wrapping up his fifth NFL season and third with the Dallas Cowboys.
Sure, McClain was coming off a career year, posting personal bests in tackles (40), sacks (2.5) and fumbles forced (two), but he wasn’t sure how the market would set up for interior defensive linemen.
[SEE MORE: 2017 Redskins Free Agency Tracker]
Two-time Pro Bowler Dontari Poe was also free to sign with any team along with the younger Johnathan Hankins. Brandon Williams was also considered a highly attractive option for teams seeking defensive line hep.
But the Washington Redskins had set their sights on McClain from the get-go. Less than 24 hours after free agency officially opened, McClain was signed.
“I was nervous being that I was hitting the free agency market and I didn’t know how teams were coming after me,” McClain said last week on “Redskins Nation.” “Just hearing the fact that the Redskins were high on me and that they wanted me to come here with the new scheme going ahead eased it up just a little bit. Also them being divisional rivals, I knew more about this team.”
McClain was one of three defensive players signed by the Redskins last week, as Washington also agreed to terms with defensive tackle Stacy McClain and safety D.J. Swearinger.
Even though Chris Baker departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ziggy Hood and Kedric Golston remain free agents, McClain will be a solid piece to a rebuilt defensive unit under Greg Manusky.
The hope is that his production from 2016 is the baseline for strong performances in the coming years.
“I think I did pretty well,” McClain said. “I think there were plays I left out, there but being able to do what people knew I could do. It’s put out there on the film and everybody is seeing what I am capable of doing really felt good.”
It will take some time for McClain to get used to the other side of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, calling it a “weird” situation. But the 28-year-old should benefit in future matchups with Dallas after practicing against their offensive line over the last few seasons.
“I played against them for three years in practice and training camp through the season so I definitely know them,” McClain said with a smile.
McClain will work with new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula in Washington. McClain watched Tomsula’s coaching from afar when he was in San Francisco and worked with defensive end Justin Smith.
Tomsula was Smith’s defensive line coach for seven years (2008-14), as the Missouri product racked up five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
“Great defense, great guy and reminds me of [Cowboys defensive coordinator] Rod [Marinelli],” McClain said. “A high intensity guy who loves his players and I can’t wait to play for him.”