The free agent market doesn't officially open until next Monday afternoon, but players who have been released by their former clubs are available now. Buffalo hosted one such player at One Bills Drive on Wednesday as LB Jameel McClain met the Bills coaching staff.
"The visit went well," McClain said. "It reminded me of my college days being up in Syracuse. I know coach Marrone. He's a stand-up guy. Everything that I know about him or heard about him he's a stand-up guy. I didn't get the pleasure of playing for him at Syracuse, but I got the chance to meet him and he's still the same, great personality."
McClain (6'1" 245) is an inside linebacker who was released by the Baltimore Ravens last week. The 28-year old was heading into the final year of a contract with the AFC North club.
The linebacker made a successful return from a spinal cord contusion injury in 2013 making 10 starts for the Ravens and recording 52 tackles.
"Health-wise I'm 100 percent. That's first," McClain said. "Now I'm a veteran in this league. I understand what it takes to win games. I understand how you lose games. I understand what it is to prepare and go for a long haul over the season. That was different when I was a kid coming in. I didn't know any of those things. So where I'm at in this game, I'm a professional within it and I'm going to treat the game like that."
A three-year starter for Baltimore, McClain could put Buffalo in position to move Kiko Alonso from middle linebacker to the weak side should the two sides progress to contract negotiations. McClain is open to playing the middle or weak side linebacker, but got indications the Bills see him as a 'mike' (middle) linebacker though nothing is set in stone.
"Initially the idea is to play some of the mike linebacker or some of the will or however it transitions," he said. "It's a new coaching staff so they have to feel out the players that they have."
With respect to the players on Buffalo's roster, McClain believes it's a team poised to put a big number in the win column this coming season.
"There's undoubtedly talent on the defensive side of the ball, and they're doing some things on offense too," he said. "I can remember as simple as scouting them and looking at some of the things that the offense was doing or seeing the defense play against teams we were playing against and being impressed so they definitely have something going on."
McClain said he has another free agent visit scheduled with the New York Giants along with some additional visits elsewhere. He has not put a timetable on when he intends to make a decision on where to sign to continue his NFL career.