Steve McLendon

DL Steve McLendon Not A Lock To Make Buccaneers Roster?

The Buccaneers may have re-signed Steve McLendon earlier this offseason, but that doesn’t mean the defensive tackle is a lock to make the roster. As Greg Auman of The Athletic writes, Tampa Bay’s defensive line depth could lead to an “interesting battle for roster spots.”

Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, and William Gholston are locked in as starters on the defensive line, leaving space for only three (maybe four) of Rakeem Noches-Nunez, special team ace Patrick O’Connor, 2020 sixth-round pick Khalil Davis, veteran Jeremiah Ledbetter, and a handful of others. McLendon could find himself in that “others” category, especially considering his age (35) and his minimal signing bonus ($137.5K). While the veteran is “well-liked and respected” by teammates, McLendon could still find himself on the way out of Tampa Bay thanks to his minimal cap charge and/or the organization’s decision to pivot towards youth.

The Jets traded McLendon and a 2023 seventh-rounder to the Bucs last October in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round choice. It amounted to a virtually no-cost pickup for Jason Licht & Co., providing them with an accomplished run-stuffer to fill in for Vita Vea. After reuniting with Todd Bowles, McLendon notched 17 tackles and two tackles for loss in the regular season. In the playoffs, he tallied five tackles and three quarterback hits en route to a Super Bowl ring.

McLendon started at least 14 games in each season between 2017 and 2019. Last year, he was first-string with the Jets for six games, but came off of the bench for the Bucs in the latter half of the year. Now, he’ll reprise his role in the rotation, providing steady support on the interior.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Bucs

After trading down twice in Round 2, the Panthers planned to select BYU tackle Brady Christensen at No. 60 and add LSU wideout Terrace Marshall Jr. with a subsequent trade-up shortly after. However, the Saints eyed Marshall at No. 60, Darin Gantt of Panthers.com notes, prompting the Panthers to change course and select Marshall earlier than initially planned. Carolina drafted Marshall at No. 59, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The Saints then took Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner at 60. Marshall, who now joins Panthers vets D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, played a key role for LSU’s national championship team alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase and last season after those future first-rounders left. He totaled 23 touchdown grabs from 2019-20. New Orleans cut No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and has been unable to find a steady complement for Michael Thomas for a few years. The team still has Tre’Quan Smith, who is entering a contract year, and used a seventh-round pick on a wideout (South Alabama’s Kawann Baker). The Panthers ended up getting Christensen at No. 70, trading up three spots to land him.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Prior to the Bears trading up to No. 11 and selecting Justin Fields, they called the Panthers about the No. 8 choice, Gantt adds. While the Panthers discussed trading down with a few teams before the draft, the Bears called during Round 1. Carolina ultimately decided moving down 12 spots, to Chicago’s No. 20 slot, was too much. The Panthers selected cornerback Jaycee Horn in Round 1. The Broncos aided the Bears’ quarterback quest a pick later, taking Patrick Surtain II over Fields.
  • This draft profiled as one of the weakest for defensive tackles in recent memory, and the class ended up influencing the Buccaneers to retain veterans at the position. While the Super Bowl champions completed a stunning effort of keeping their team together, GM Jason Licht said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine) the thin D-tackle class moved the team to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, Steve McLendon and Rakeem Nunez-Roches earlier this offseason. The Bucs did not draft a defensive tackle this year.
  • The Saints are reuniting with C.J. Leak, a staffer who once worked as their Combine scout. The Texans dismissed Leak as their assistant director of pro personnel in February, but veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets Leak will return to the Saints. Houston hired Leak in 2018. Leak previously spent two years with New Orleans.
  • Staying on the scouting subject, the Panthers are adding Jared Kirksey to their scouting staff, Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com tweets. Kirksey was previously on the Jaguars’ staff and has previously worked as a Bucs and Texans scout.

Buccaneers Re-Sign Steve McLendon

The Buccaneers have re-signed defensive tackle Steve McLendon, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The veteran returns on a one-year deal, setting himself up for his first full season in Tampa.

The Jets traded McLendon and a 2023 seventh-rounder to the Bucs last October, in exchange for a 2022 sixth-round choice. It amounted to a virtually no-cost pickup for Jason Licht & Co., providing them with an accomplished run-stuffer to fill in for Vita Vea.

After reuniting with Todd Bowles, McLendon notched 17 tackles and two tackles for loss in the regular season. In the playoffs, he tallied five tackles and three quarterback hits en route to a Super Bowl ring. Not bad for a player who started the year with one of the league’s worst teams.

McLendon started at least 14 games in each season between 2017 and 2019. Last year, he was first-string with the Jets for six games, but came off of the bench for the Bucs in the latter half of the year. Now, he’ll reprise his role in the rotation, providing steady support on the interior.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/11/21

Today’s minor transactions:

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/1/21

Here are the minor moves from New Year’s Day:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: WR John Brown

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trade Notes: Vikings, Giants, Dunlap, Jets

The Vikings greenlit this season’s biggest trade thus far by sending Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for third- and fifth-round picks. While GM Rick Spielman said the team is not waving a white flag on its 2020 season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Vikings are willing to make more seller’s trades. Teams have contacted them about Kyle Rudolph, their 10th-year tight end who is in the first season of his latest Minnesota extension. The Vikings signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36MM extension but did so shortly after drafting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round. While Breer notes the Vikes are open for business on contract-year players, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Rudolph would make sense as a trade chip as well. He was a trade candidate before he signed his extension. Guard Pat Elflein and franchise-tagged safety Anthony Harris are the Vikings’ highest-profile contract-year players.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • While this year’s NFC East could be historically bad, the Giants are 1-6 and in a seller’s position again. They have fielded calls on Kevin Zeitler and Golden Tate, according to Breer. Tate has been a deadline chip before, with the Lions sending him to the Eagles in 2018. Tate’s through-2022 contract, thanks to a PED suspension in 2019, contains no more guaranteed money. Zeitler’s deal runs through 2021. The upper-echelon guard has more than $5MM in salary remaining this season and is due a $12MM base in 2021. The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade in 2019.
  • Washington has lost five straight and is also willing to listen on veterans, per Breer. Two that have come up: edge defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson. The former is Washington’s all-time sack leader; he has three this season for a deep D-line group. But Washington drafted Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the past two first rounds, creating a rare surplus that has moved Kerrigan to a rotational role. Kerrigan and Anderson are in contract years.
  • Carlos Dunlap took issue with the Bengals demoting him, joining Geno Atkins in voicing frustration about playing time. The Bengals were not eager to deal veterans last year, despite their struggles in a 2-14 season, but Breer adds teams view Dunlap as available for trade. Dunlap is Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader but still played a part-time role for the team last week, despite Sam Hubbard‘s IR placement. The Bengals are expected to cut Dunlap in 2021.
  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.
  • Traded players must go through similar protocols to free agency additions. They must pass a COVID-19 test for five days straight and pass a sixth on the day they enter the facility. This formed the Ravens‘ timetable on their Ngakoue trade, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter), in order for the defensive end to practice Wednesday and play against the Steelers next week.

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.