The New York Jets have re-signed nose tackle Steve McLendon to an extension through the 2020 season. It might get overlooked, but this is a very solid move by the team.
The New York Jets haven’t given fans too many reasons to be optimistic about the state of the team through five weeks. But nose tackle Steve McLendon has quietly been one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dull Jets team.
And now the Jets have rewarded their veteran with a brand new contract extension through the 2020 season.
McLendon first joined the Jets as a free agent back in 2016. Prior to that, he had spent the previous seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers after originally entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Troy in 2009.
The big 310-pound nose tackle would eventually work his way into the starting lineup becoming a full-time starter in the 2013 season. But after three seasons as a starter in Pittsburgh, McLendon would sign a three-year, $12 million contract with the Jets ahead of the 2016 season.
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Since then, McLendon has served as a reliable run-stuffer in the middle of the defense while also serving as a vocal leader on and off the field. Many expected the team to move on from the veteran this past offseason, but the Jets decided to keep him around.
And now it appears as though he’ll be around through 2020.
Despite his age — he’ll be 34-years-old in January — McLendon continues to play at a high level and has arguably been the Jets’ most productive defensive lineman through five weeks.
McLendon leads all Jets defensive linemen with 11 tackles and is second on the team with three tackles for loss. He also has two QB hits and a sack to his name this season vastly outperforming more high-profile linemen such as Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson.
But aside from his surprisingly high level of play, the Jets likely want to keep McLendon around because of his leadership.
While much of the attention when discussing vocal leadership on defense shifts to the bombastic Jamal Adams, McLendon has been the heart and soul of this Jets defense for nearly half a decade now.
That’s why when it came time for the team’s players to choose a fifth captain last year the choice was easy. And ever since the Jets re-introduced captains last season, McLendon has proudly worn the “C” path on his jersey.
Former head coach Todd Bowles had this to say about McLendon when he was given his captaincy status last season.
“Steve is the vocal leader. He’s very well-spoken and he always says the right thing at the right time. He’s very positive and understands what the team needs and when it needs it. He practices that way. He plays that way. He’s very powerful and everybody respects him.”
Oftentimes McLendon’s voice is the one heard in Jets practices, pre-game speeches, and in-game huddles. Given that, it makes sense that the team would like to lock him up and keep him around for another season.
In what has been a difficult season, Steve McLendon has been one of the few constant positive presences on the team.
And now, Jets fans could look forward to another season of production from their ageless wonder.