34 year old Steve McLendon is one of the NFL’s best stories of the last decade, going undrafted to spend seven solid seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before going to the Jets in 2016. The nose tackle has 226 tackles and 12.5 sacks over his NFL career.
On Sunday, however, he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are first in the NFC South. Tampa Bay looks to become the new title town, as the Lightning have won the Stanley Cup and the Rays are four games away from winning the World Series. The Bucs? They have a revamped offense with a core that consists of Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. Yet it’s their defense that features even more of a wealth of talent: Shaquil Barrett, Sean-Murphy Bunting, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Devin White, Jason Pierre Paul, Jordan Whitehead among others. The defense has been historic.
This past week they creamed Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who were the number one ranked offense heading into the week. The Bucs then acquired McLendon for a sixth rounder in 2022 to add to their wealth. The Bucs had a tremendous nose tackle in Vita Vea, until this happened:
Next on their depth chart was Rakeem Nunez-Roches. McLendon has started for the Jets all of his last four seasons, but likely will split time with Nunez-Roches. McLendon is also one of the best mentors to young players in the league, with many of the Jets young defensive players citing him as a reason they’ve stayed in the NFL. He’s noted to always be saying “Rule number one: don’t be number two.”
McLendon adds experience to an already stellar defensive unit on a one year deal for very little to the Bucs in a low-risk, high-reward move. It also gives him an opportunity to win, seeing as the Jets never finished higher than 7-9 in his tenure.
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