Tampa Bay was in need of a nose tackle run-stuffer after the season-ending injury to Vita Vea, so they went out and made a quick move. The compensation New York is getting back wasn’t immediately reported, but we’ll pass that along as soon as we get it. McLendon will be reuniting with Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was his head coach with the Jets, which helps explain this acquisition.
McLendon was a locker room leader for the Jets and his departure will ‘sting’ some current Jets players, Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets. McLendon was one of the few vocal guys in the locker room, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. The Jets are now 0-6 on the year, and it’s hard not to feel like this is the beginning of a larger tanking process.
There are still two-plus weeks until the trade deadline, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more of New York’s veterans were shipped out before it as they currently lead in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. McLendon is 34 now, but still capable of clogging up some running lanes.
He’s a free agent at the end of the year, so it makes sense for Jets GM Joe Douglas to get something for him while he still can. An UDFA from Troy in 2009, McLendon spent his first seven years with the Steelers before signing a three-year, $12MM pact with the Jets in 2016. He’s started at least 14 games in each of the past three seasons. He’s never provided too much as a pass-rusher, although he did have 2.5 sacks last year. He’s not Vea, but this will still be a welcome addition for a contending Tampa team in need of bodies in the middle.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.