Steve McLendon

AFC East Notes: Jets, Williams, Patriots, Gronkowski

When asked whether defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be traded, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly say no.

I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects,” Gase said (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). “These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table. I don’t know what other teams are thinking, but right now I like the way our guys are rolling. Anything’s possible, but I like the way our team is.”

Other teams, predictably, are interested in the former No. 6 overall pick. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that GM Joe Douglas could be willing to part with Williams for third- and fifth-round selections. If that’s the asking price, Williams might not be long for the New York/New Jersey area.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • During an appearance on WEEI, a caller asked former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski point blank if he would return to the NFL. “I’ll give an answer,” Gronkowski replied. “When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away. So it would be a no. There it isI never say no, because I’ve said no, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding. He’s coming back.’ But it’s a no. In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.” Sounds pretty definitive, but Pats owner Robert Kraft is far from convinced.
  • Ben Watson is back with the Patriots, in part because tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with an MCL sprain (Twitter link via Mike Giardi of NFL.com). LaCosse played through the Giants game last Thursday night, but his availability for this week against the Jets is in doubt.
  • Speaking of Watson – his new, prorated one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $800K fully guaranteed, plus $140K in incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). That’s a solid payday, considering that he already made $686K off of his original 2019 pact with the Pats.
  • Defensive tackle Steve McLendon’s one-year extension with the Jets is worth $3MM, with $1.65MM in new guarantees, per Pelissero.

Jets, NT Steve McLendon Agree On Extension

Steve McLendon will no longer be in a contract year. The Jets announced they’ve come to terms with the veteran nose tackle on a one-year extension. McLendon re-signed with the Jets in March, agreeing to a one-year, $2.5MM deal.

Although McLendon will turn 34 in January, he is in his fourth season as a Jets starter and is filling this role for a second coaching staff. The Joe DouglasAdam Gase administration clearly has a similar view of the 10th-year veteran compared to that of the Mike MaccagnanTodd Bowles regime.

McLendon has registered a sack and 11 tackles for the 2019 Jets. He has started 42 games for the Jets since signing with New York in 2016. Previously, McLendon played six seasons with the Steelers. He served as a first-stringer for multiple Pittsburgh playoff teams.

In 120 snaps this season, McLendon has graded well in the view of Pro Football Focus. The advanced-metrics site slots McLendon as its No. 12 interior defender — well ahead of every other Jet defensive lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Re-Sign DT Steve McLendon

The Jets have re-signed defensive tackle Steve McLendon, according to a team announcement. It’s a one-year deal with a base value of $2.5MM, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). McLendon can earn up to $1MM with incentives, bringing the maximum value of the contract to $3.5MM. 

McLendon, 33, did not record a sack last year, though he did appear in all 16 games (including 14 starts). He logged 34 tackles in total and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 29 ranked interior defender. That score, buoyed by his strong run defense, actually put him one slot ahead of teammate Leonard Williams and several places above Henry Anderson. All three players are set to return to the Jets following Anderson’s reported three-year, $25.2MM agreement.

The Jets’ D-Line went from sixth in adjusted line yards in 2017 to 13th in 2018. In 2019, they’ll have to reverse that trend if they want to get back on track.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.