Steve McLendon

Jets Exercise Option For DT Steve McLendon

The Jets have exercised their 2018 options for defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Josh Martin, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).Steve McLendon (Vertical)

McLendon, 32, will now earn a $3.125MM base salary and a $250K roster bonus while counting for $4.25MM on the Jets’ cap. His option was fully expected to be picked up, as he helped New York field one of the best defensive lines in the NFL a season ago. Gang Green ranked sixth in adjusted line yards in 2017, and McLendon — who graded as the league’s No. 29 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus — was a large part of the club’s success.

Martin, meanwhile, only played 489 defensive snaps last year, but his playing time steadily increased as the season progressed. By the end of the 2017 campaign, Martin was a starter, and had collected 31 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 14 total games. Martin, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013, will now earn a $1.8MM base salary in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Dolphins, Steelers, Jets

The Dolphins released cornerback Brent Grimes in March 2016, which his wife, Miko Grimes, took credit for at the time and again in an interview this week with Jack Dickey of SI.com. “People say I got him cut with my mouth,” said Miko Grimes. “Duh! That was the goal!” While Miko Grimes has taken to Twitter in the past to make anti-Semitic comments about Dolphins brass and attack quarterback Ryan Tannehill, her obnoxious behavior did not spur Brent Grimes’ release, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Rather, the Dolphins cut the now-Buccaneer “because of his size, his age, and the magnitude of his contract,” writes Florio, who adds that they first tried to trade him.

More from a couple other AFC cities:

  • If the Steelers and franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell are going to reach a multiyear agreement by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, it probably won’t come until the 11th hour, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been any movement toward a deal Friday, per Fittipaldo, so it continues to look as if Bell will play the season for $12.12MM.
  • There could still be major changes to the Jets’ defensive line by Week 1, suggests Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The Jets have shopped Sheldon Richardson in recent months, and if a team comes along this summer willing to trade a third-round pick for him, Gang Green should take it, opines Cimini. Steve McLendon, one of Richardson’s prominent line mates, also might not be a lock to remain a Jet into the regular season. New York would like to see second-year nose tackle Deon Simon emerge this summer, and if that happens, it may make McLendon expendable, notes Cimini.
  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this summer that receiver Martavis Bryant will have to “win back everybody’s trust” as he returns from a yearlong suspension. Bryant took exception to that, telling Dan Graziano of ESPN.com on Thursday that he and Roethlisberger “should have a man-to-man. Because some of the things he put out there about me, I kind of didn’t agree with how he did it.” Nevertheless, Bryant added that “everything’s great” between him and the QB at the moment.

East Notes: Tyrod, Cowboys, Jets, Redskins

Andrew Luck‘s record-setting contract extension won’t affect Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor‘s next deal, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Rather, the Luck pact will only impact signal-callers who could end up in position to become the highest-paid player in the NFL – as Luck is for the moment. Taylor – who’s set to make $3MM this season – doesn’t qualify, contends Florio, who expects the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder to either land an accord in the $15MM annual range between now and next offseason or get the franchise tag over the winter. That puts the soon-to-be 27-year-old in company with Kirk Cousins, not Luck.

More from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • If Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t sign off on the release of suspended linebacker Rolando McClain, it will further demonstrate that seventh-year head coach Jason Garrett has no real authority, argues Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. McClain is just one of several players with off-field issues Jones’ Cowboys have employed during Garrett’s tenure, which undermines the coach’s statements about “character” and playing “the right way,” notes Engel. Prior to the NFL slapping him with a 10-game suspension Friday for a violation of its substance abuse policy, McClain angered the Cowboys’ coaches by skipping OTAs, according to Engel. And now the Garrett-led staff has a chance to send a message by giving McClain his walking papers, though Jones would have to OK it. Cutting McClain, who missed four games last season because of a suspension, would save Dallas $2.63MM against the cap and leave it with $750K in dead money.
  • After signing with the Jets in free agency, defensive tackle Steve McLendon has a difficult task ahead of him in replacing elite run-stuffer and offseason departure Damon Harrison, but the longtime Steeler doesn’t see it that way. “He went somewhere else. I came here. So it’s not like I’m taking over for anybody,” McLendon told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. The 30-year-old McLendon also explained to Slater how he and Harrison differ as players, saying, “He was like the traditional nose tackle, do it all. Big, strong, explosive. I’m not as big as him. My game is built off quickness and strength.” Indeed, the 350-pound Harrison has 40 pounds on McLendon, who regards himself as a D-tackle. The Jets did deploy McLendon at nose tackle during spring practices, though that was just one of a handful of D-line spots at which they used him, per Slater.
  • Rich Tandler of RealRedskins.com highlights three under-the-radar storylines the Redskins will deal with in training camp, pointing out that they face uncertainty along both lines and at cornerback.

AFC Notes: Bills Stadium, Jets, Texans

The idea of the Bills building a new facility to replace 43-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium came to the fore last week, but team officials indicated then that they weren’t in any hurry to start the process. Club president Russ Brandon elaborated further on Monday, telling the Buffalo News’ Vic Carucci that the Bills “have not met and discussed anything relative to all the noise.”

In fact, the New Stadium Working Group – which consists of state and local political leaders – hasn’t gathered since April 2014, per Brandon. That was shortly after franchise founder and previous owner Ralph Wilson passed away and before Terry and Kim Pegula took control of the Bills in October 2014. One reason the Bills aren’t rushing to build a new stadium is because it would likely have far fewer seats than their current 71,850-seat venue, notes Carucci. Another, as Brandon mentioned last week and brought up again Monday, is that Buffalo isn’t a booming business town.

“People say, ‘Oh, we’re very similar to Minneapolis.’ They have 28 Fortune 500 companies in that community. We have zero,” he said, referencing the Vikings and their new stadium. “We have to be a regional operation. We know that. That’s proven.”

More from the AFC:

  • The Jets are in position to get great bang for their buck on the three-year, $10.5MM free agent deal they signed defensive tackle Steve McLendon to, argues Brian Costello of the New York Post. McClendon has an enormous task ahead of him in taking over for now-Giant Damon Harrison at the center of the Jets’ defensive line, but Costello points to head coach Todd Bowles’ scheme as a reason to expect impressive production. In Pittsburgh, where he played from 2010-15, McLendon’s role was to occupy blockers so the linebackers could make plays. In New York, though, the 280-pounder will have more freedom to get upfield and attack.
  • Texans receiver Jaelen Strong tells Mike Florio of PFT that he is not threatened by the team’s addition of rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. “I felt like it was a great addition,” Strong said. “I feel like we’re going have some fun out there this year and I’m very excited for Braxton and Will. Two young guys ready to come to work every day. Every day they’re excited, they ask questions and that’s the stuff we need.”
  • Earlier this week, in an exclusive for PFR, NFL scouting analyst Dave-Te Thomas discussed the immediate impact that both Fuller and Miller could have on the Texans’ offense in 2016. He also weighed in on the draft class of the AFC South rival Titans.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Contract Details: RGIII, McLendon, Morris

Here are some specific details on contracts that have been agreed upon or signed within the last several days:

  • Robert Griffin III, QB (Browns): Two years, $15MM. $6.75MM guaranteed. $3.5MM signing bonus. $750K annually in per-game roster bonuses. Base salaries of $3.5MM (guaranteed) and $6MM. $750K roster bonus on third day of 2017 league year. Up to $3.5MM in annual incentives based on playing time, yards, and passer rating (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Steve McLendon, DT (Jets): Three years, $10.5MM. $4MM guaranteed. $2.25MM signing bonus. $250K option bonus after 2017 season. $250K annually in per-game roster bonuses in 2017 and 2018. $750K escalator (Links via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com and Wilson).
  • Alfred Morris, RB (Cowboys): Two years, $3.5MM. $1.8MM fully guaranteed. $1MM signing bonus. Can be worth up to $5.5MM with incentives/escalator. $500K in per-game roster bonuses in 2017. $1MM rushing-yard escalator for 2017. Threshold for incentives begins at 1,000 yards (Twitter links via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, Pelissero, and Wilson).
  • Daryl Smith, LB (Buccaneers): One year, $2.5MM. $2MM guaranteed. $650K signing bonus. $500K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times).
  • Taylor Mays, S (Bengals): One year, $840K. $25K signing bonus. $35K October 10th 53-man roster bonus (following suspension). $40K playing-time incentive (Twitter link via Wilson).

Jets Sign Steve McLendon

MARCH 21, 2:45pm: The Jets have officially signed McLendon, the team announced today via its official website.

MARCH 16, 11:29am: The Jets’ deal with McLendon is a three-year pact worth up to $12MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who adds that it features $4MM in guaranteed money. Terms of the deal were first reported by Dom Cosentino of NJ.com.

MARCH 15, 6:18pm: The Jets will sign nose tackle Steve McLendon, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. McLendon will help fill the void left by Damon Harrison when he signed a five-year deal with the Giants.Steve McLendon (Featured)

The Steelers liked McLendon and wanted to retain him, but they were reportedly resistant to paying big money to a player who only sees the field for about 25-30% of the club’s defensive snaps. Pittsburgh could now enhance Dan McCullers‘ role with McLendon heading to New Jersey. Up until now, McLendon had spent his entire six-year career in Pittsburgh.

In 2015, the 6’4″ interior lineman saw time in all of Pittsburgh’s 16 regular season games and made 10 starts. In that time, McLendon tallied 14 tackles and 1 sack. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated McLendon as the No. 91 interior lineman in the NFL last year out of 123 qualified players. He did, however, earn a decent 74.8 grade for his run defense, which put him in the 50s. Harrison, meanwhile, was Pro Football Focus’ top ranked run defender in 2015.

Pro Football Rumors had McLendon ranked as the No. 15 interior defensive lineman in this year’s free agent crop, putting him ahead of players like Kevin Williams, Al Woods, Ahtyba Rubin, Randy Starks, and Henry Melton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agency Rumors: D. Davis, Browns, Steelers

Free agent linebacker Demario Davis is in Cleveland visiting the Browns, according to Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin, who tweets that Davis has also drawn interest from other clubs. Davis, 27, has spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Jets, starting every game for the team since the start of the 2013 season.

Here are a few more free agency notes and rumors from around the NFL:

  • Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link) hears from sources that safety Eric Weddle turned down larger offers from two other teams to join the Ravens. Cole adds that Baltimore assistant general manager Eric DeCosta spoke to Weddle and his representatives for 90 minutes on the phone, addressing questions and issues that the veteran free agent had about Baltimore and the Ravens.
  • The Steelers like nose tackle Steve McLendon and want to re-sign him, but they’re resistant to paying big money to a player who only sees the field for about 25-30% of the club’s defensive snaps, writes Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. According to Fowler, Pittsburgh is willing to enhance Dan McCullers‘ role if the team loses McLendon, who recently paid a visit to the Jets.
  • Before he agreed to a new deal with the Vikings, cornerback Marcus Sherels received an offer from the Jets and was prepared to visit with the Panthers, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Buccaneers also had interest in Sherels.

Free Agent Visits: McLendon, Coples, Hairston

Free agent nose tackle Steve McLendon is taking a visit today with the Jets, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), citing agent Richard Kopelman of KLASS Sports. New York has a hole at the nose tackle position after Damon Harrison signed a five-year deal with the Giants, and while McLendon could be a nice fit, the Jets don’t have a ton of cap flexibility, so we’ll see if they can make something work.

The Steelers, meanwhile, still have interest in retaining McLendon, who has spent his entire six-year career in Pittsburgh. However, the veteran defensive lineman wants to test the market, tweets Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Here’s more on free agents around the NFL:

  • The Rams are hosting Quinton Coples on a visit today, tweets Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link). The Rams’ defensive line has been one of the NFL’s best for the last few years, but with Chris Long and Nick Fairley no longer under contract, the team could use some help up front to complement Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, and William Hayes.
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that offensive lineman Chris Hairston is scheduled to meet with the Steelers later in the week. However, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says (via Twitter) that the team doesn’t currently have a meeting set up with Hairston. It’s not clear whether the visit isn’t happening at all, or whether it still needs to be formally scheduled.
  • Free agent defensive tackle Brandon Thompson is visiting the Seahawks today, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Thompson has been a solid reserve for the Bengals so far in his career, but suffered a torn ACL in January, so he’s unlikely to be healthy for a few more months.

AFC Rumors: McCourty, Browns, Jaguars

The free agency defections of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, coupled with the release of Kyle Arrington, have the Patriots with a thin cornerback crop. One solution thrown around is moving Devin McCourty back to corner from the safety spot where he’s become an impact talent, but the recently re-signed McCourty has little interest in moving back outside, per the Boston Globe’s Steve Silva.

I want to play safety, but it’s out of my control so whatever the coaches decide is what it will have to be,” McCourty said to reporters after an OTA session Friday.

Relocating McCourty would leave New England thin on its back line as well, although Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner are entering their fourth seasons with the team — profiles that generally depict starting-capable players in the era of four-year rookie deals. The 2012 draft picks have combined for just four starts, however. Doubting the Patriots’ ability to make a patchwork secondary productive would be foolhardy at this point, though, given their track record.

Let’s look at some additional points from around the AFC.

  • The Browns‘ special teams makeover now includes punter, kicker and long snapper, after acquiring Andy Lee, cutting Billy Cundiff and Garrett Hartley and releasing snapper Christian Yount, notes Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. 2014 rookies Travis Coons and Carey Spear are vying to take over at kicker in Cleveland, and rookie Duke Johnson is expected to become the team’s new kick returner, though Justin Gilbert will likely be given a chance to do so as well, Cabot reports.
  • Fourth-round free safety James Sample will miss at least part of training camp after fracturing his arm in a Jaguars OTA session Thursday, reports Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Sample underwent surgery on Friday. Expected to battle Sergio Brown for a starting position, Sample joins Dante Fowler Jr. as Jags rookies who’ve sustained serious injuries before shoulder pads enter the equation.
  • Steelers veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon said he played through a significant shoulder injury last season and after an offseason surgery is in better position to help out and push for a third contract with the team, reports Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The third-year starter is one of three Steelers starting defenders, along with Cameron Heyward and William Gay, entering a contract season. The 29-year-old who has missed six games the past two years is in the final year of a three-year, $7.25MM deal that represents the eighth-highest pact among nose tackles.
  • Third-round rookie John Miller is the frontrunner to start at left guard for the Bills this season, offers Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Chris Williams, who started three games last year for the Bills, hasn’t shown up to minicamp yet, and Rex Ryan told Maiorana he hasn’t spoken to the absent veteran. The Bills scribe doesn’t expect the former Bears flameout to be on the team much longer, especially if he doesn’t appear at mandatory minicamp next month.
  • Titans rookie Dorial Green-Beckham is seeking to trim down to 225 pounds by the time training camp begins. The mercurial specimen who hasn’t played in a game since 2013 is hovering in the high 230s now, notes The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.
  • Speaking of weight fluctuations, Melvin Ingram has slashed 20 pounds off his frame and sits at 245 this summer as he makes an attempt at a healthy campaign entering his fourth season with the Chargers, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken. Ingram hasn’t played in more than nine games since his rookie campaign in 2012.

 

North Notes: Williams, Lyerla, Worilds

Packers cornerback Tramon Williams was a Pro Bowler in 2010, but a shoulder injury in the 2011 season opener limited his effectiveness for two seasons (despite starting 31 games). The 31-year-old seemed to regain his form last season, however, writes ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde, who quoted cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt: “Really, the last nine games – [Williams] played as good as everybody talked about 2010. From the New York game on, if you’re looking for much better play than that, you’re not going to get it from anybody in the league. Now, can we get it for 16 games and onto the playoffs and next year? I’m a firm believer if he’s healthy, we’re going to get it.”

Here’s a handful more NFC and AFC North links:

  • An NFL.com story touching on Packers tight ends recycled a May story by the Journal Sentinel’s Tyler Dunne in which Eagles rookie receiver Josh Huff said former Oregon teammate and current Packers hopeful Colt Lyerla can be better than the best tight ends in the game. That said, the position is crowded. In a recent podcast, Dunne and Fox 11-TV’s Justin Felder speculated about Lyerla’s chances, saying roster decisions might come down to special-teams utility. They also wondered aloud if trying to stash Lyerla on the practice squad — in a scenario where he is productive and trustworthy through training camp — would be too risky.
  • The Steelers were next up in OverTheCap.com’s “Best and Worst Contracts” series, and Jason Fitzgerald is very skeptical of the team’s decision to use the transition tag on outside linebacker Jason Worilds: “In my estimation, with just half of a pretty good season under his belt in four years, Worilds was looking at no more than $6.5 million per year on a long-term deal. Now with the leverage of the [$9.8MM] tender, he has limited incentive to take a reasonable deal, so they’ll likely have to overpay significantly if they want to retain him long-term. And if they don’t retain him long-term, they’ll have overpaid significantly for a single season from a player who has been mediocre at best to this point.”
  • The Steelers’ nose tackle position, most notably returning starter Steve McLendon, was previewed by ESPN’s Scott Brown. McLendon was just “OK” as Casey Hampton’s replacement last season, and “McLendon still has to prove that he is the long-term answer at nose tackle,” says Brown, “but he appears to be in a much better position to play well this season, both from a physical and mental standpoint.” McLendon, who played about a third of the Steelers’ defensive snaps in 2013, has bulked up 20 pounds in an effort to anchor better against the run.
  • The departure of Arthur Jones via free agency creates an opportunity for Ravens defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson, writes BaltimoreRavens.com staff writer Garrett Downing, who points out Tyson’s career arc is similar to Jones’.