Jets Free Agency: Initial grade and analysis of Steve McLendon
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets re-signed one of their veteran team leaders on Thursday when they agreed to terms on a contract with nose tackle Steve McLendon.
The New York Jets will be keeping their starting defensive line intact as the team officially announced that they had re-signed nose tackle Steve McLendon for the 2019 season.
McLendon will return for his fourth season in the green and white after spending the first six years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 33-year-old has been able to carve out quite the career for himself since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
A team captain in 2018, McLendon has long been thought of as one of the locker room leaders in the organization. He is a vocal figurehead for the defense and has served as one of the few veteran presences on a very young team.
Despite his role dwindling in recent years, McLendon has remained a solid if unspectacular run stopper filling the role of a two-down run-stuffing nose tackle. The Jets decision to remain in the 3-4 defense likely played a key role in his return for one more season.
The Jets signed McLendon to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract with a maximum value of $3.5 million if all incentives are hit.
Steve McLendon is staying in the Green & White.
→ https://t.co/VkTPqeum8i pic.twitter.com/15kINjpqNn
— New York Jets (@nyjets) March 14, 2019
Jets deal with Steve McLendon, per sources: 1 year, $2.5 million… the max value is $3.5 million.
Jets bring back a veteran leader and quality anchor in the trenches. Q
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 14, 2019
By retaining NT Steve McLendon, the #Jets starting D-line remains intact. It could get a big addition in the draft (Quinnen Williams). Depth chart:
DE: Leonard Williams, Henry Anderson, Nathan Shepherd, Bronson Kaufusi, Charles Tapper.
DT: McLendon, Folorunso Fatukasi.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 14, 2019
There are plenty of worse things the Jets could do with $2.5 million than keeping McLendon around for another season with the team. McLendon has been one of the key team leaders for a number of years and could help assist in the development of some of the Jets young defensive linemen.
More from Free Agency
- NY Jets: Why the team should target cornerback Shaquill Griffin
- NY Jets: Why the team should not cut Jamison Crowder
- NY Jets should try to sign Kenny Golladay in free agency
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
If anything, McLendon has been a productive run-stuffer out of the team’s base 3-4 defense. The Troy product scored a very respectable 78.5 grade in 2018 with Pro Football Focus ranking him as the No. 29 interior defensive lineman in the league.
If the Jets switch to a 4-3 defense anytime in the future, it would almost certainly mean the end of McLendon’s tenure with the team. His best fit is as a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense and at this stage in his career, it would be surprising for any team to give him a look as a three-technique or one-technique defensive tackle.
But at the very least, McLendon should give the Jets another solid year as a run-stopper while also serving as a vocal team leader.
Not a high-key re-signing but one that makes sense given the price point.