If one didn’t know any better, one might think the New York Jets were actively trying to cut ties with anyone who has ever been a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last Tuesday the Jets decided to cut former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. The following day New York released former Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief from its practice squad.
Then on Sunday, the Jets agreed to trade former Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon, 34, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this according to Rick Stroud, who covers the Bucs and the NFL for the Tampa Bay Times. Per Stroud, the Jets are sending McClendon and a seventh-round pick in 2023 for Tampa Bay’s sixth-round pick in 2022.
Why Did Tampa Bay Make the Trade?
Tampa Bay was in need of reinforcements on the interior of its defensive line with defensive tackle Vita Vea out for the season after suffering a broken leg on Thursday October 8th against the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, the Jets are in rebuilding mode and might be hard-pressed to win a game anytime soon. New York’s next three games are against the Buffalo Bills (4-1), Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) and New England Patriots (2-3), at which points the Jets get a bye.
McLendon had four tackles for the Jets (0-6) on Sunday during the team’s 24-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins. It was his 65th game with New York, during which time he was credited with 158 total tackles, with 28 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Steve McLendon’s Career with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Steve McLendon—6-foot-3 and 310 pounds—broke into the NFL with the Steelers in 2009, an undrafted free agent from Troy University (Alabama). During his seven years in Pittsburgh, McLendon started 31 of 79 games, with 90 total tackles (58 solo), with 13 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He spent his first year with the Steelers on the team’s practice squad before he saw his first playing time in 2010. McLendon started nine or more games in his last three seasons with the Steelers (2013-2015).
McLendon joins a Buccaneers team that is 4-2 and has Super Bowl aspirations, thanks to the addition of quarterback Tom Brady in free agency. By virtue of making the trade on Sunday, McLendon will likely have time to clear COVID-19 protocols and be available to make his Buccaneers debut next weekend at the Las Vegas Raiders.
With the move McLendon is reunited with former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles (2015-18), who has been Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator since 2019.
Much like Vea, McLendon will be expected to occupy blockers and attract double-teams, freeing up his defensive teammates to make plays. McLendon comes to Tampa Bay at a modest cost as his contract pays him $1.25 million in base salary, approximately $450,000 of which has already been paid by the Jets. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
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