The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made several roster moves to add depth at defensive tackle to help fill-in for Vita Vea who is out for the rest of the season. The Bucs traded for defensive tackle Steve McLendon by swapping draft picks with the Jets. Tampa sent a future sixth-round pick to New York in exchange for McLendon and a 2023 seventh-round selection.
The Buccaneers also signed defensive tackle Kobe Smith to their practice squad. The former University of South Carolina defensive lineman signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent and was previously on Tennessee’s practice squad before being released on September 21. Tampa is hoping these players can eventually contribute to the defensive line rotation to help fill the void left by Vea.
McLendon started all six games this season for the Jets as well as 16 contests in 2019. The veteran defensive tackle is playing in his 11th NFL season. Seahawks safety Jamal Adams was teammates with McLendon in New York and took to Twitter to congratulate him on the trade. Adams noted that McLendon “taught me how to be a pro.”
“I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU BROTHA!” Adams said on Twitter. “LOOK AT GOD WORK! #99. …OG taught me how to be a PRO!”
McLendon had 36 tackles, 2.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits last season with the Jets. It will be interesting to see how quickly the Bucs get McLendon on the field, but with the trade occurring at the beginning of the week, it means their upcoming matchup against the Raiders could be in play for the defensive tackle.
The Bucs Are Coming Off Their Best Defensive Performance of the Season
The Bucs defense is coming off its best performance of the season with two interceptions, five sacks, a forced fumble and 13 quarterback hits against the Packers. Linebacker Lavonte David called the team’s defensive effort against Green Bay the new “standard” for the unit.
“It’s definitely a standard that we have to uphold now,” David explained, per Buccaneers.com. “Especially with the coaching staff we have – they’re not going to accept anything less than our performance that we had. We’ve got to be able to be consistent, not get too high [and] not get too low and just stay the course. We know we played a good football game yesterday against a great football team, but now that’s in the past. We have to keep on moving forward and keep on stacking them.”
Tampa Released Receiver John Hurst & Safety D’Cota Dixon
Tampa Bay made several additional roster moves to make room for their new players. Wide receiver John Hurst and safety D’Cota Dixon have been released. During a 2018 interview, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp praised Smith’s impact on their defense.
“I think Kobe is playing really well,” Muschamp told The Herald. “Kobe is a guy that guy pressure on the quarterback several times. Just continues to improve and get more and more snaps moving forward.”
It will be worth watching to see if Smith can make his way from the practice squad to the active roster. Tampa’s defense is trending up with the second half of the season on the horizon.