Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have almost all of their 2015 draft class under contract, we’ll all wait until training camp gets underway to find out which players who are entering the final years of their current contracts receive extensions. While defensive end Cameron Heyward and tackle Kelvin Beachum are nearly guaranteed to get new deals prior to the start of the 2015 regular season, veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon could very well wind up getting one as well.
McLendon, who originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2009, inked a new three-year, $7.25 million contract with the Steelers as a restricted free agent in April of 2013 after being courted by the Green Bay Packers. Since that time, he has played in 26 regular-season games and registered 54 total tackles with one sack and one forced fumble.
With the jury still being somewhat out on second-year behemoth nose tackle Daniel McCullers, the Steelers would be wise to try to lock up McLendon for another two or three-years this summer via a contract somewhat similar to the one that he signed in 2013. McLendon has experience and being as he’s almost 30 years-old, one would think that he would take a slightly elevated deal as he is essentially a part-time player who has never played more than 355 defensive snaps in a single season.
At worst, the Steelers would have a player under contract for the next few years at a reasonable price and who is position flexible should McCullers wind up wrestling away the starting nose tackle position come 2016.
Over the course of McLendon’s latest contract, his cap charge in any one year never exceeded $3 million. When you consider the fact that fellow Steelers defensive lineman Cam Thomas is set to count $2.5 million in 2015 should he make the final 53 man roster, you can see that McLendon is currently a bargain.
On top of everything else, Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell has always been a huge fan of McLendon.
“Steve McLendon is going to be a better football player (this year),” said Mitchell of the Troy product during the 2015 NFL Draft.
McLendon fought through a shoulder injury last season that forced him to miss four games. Assuming that injury is now behind him, there’s no reason not to believe Mitchell’s prediction. He’s also exactly what you look for in a Steelers player who beat the odds as an undrafted free agent.
“I think Steve McLendon is a guy that stayed in here, worked hard day in and day out,” said Mitchell. “We cut him about four times. He had a never say never attitude. He wasn’t going to die. He felt like he could play on this level, and I’m happy for the guy.”
In 2013, McLendon received a $1.675 million signing bonus as part of his $7.25 million deal. If a new three-year extension wound up totaling out as high as $12 million and included a $3.5 million signing bonus, his cap charge could actually drop by $630,000 in 2015. Additionally, should McLendon need to be released after the 2016 season, it would only result in a $1.75 million dead money charge in 2017 if cut prior to June 1 and his cap charge in any one season would likely never hit $4 million.
Below is what a new three-year extension could look like for McLendon based on the numbers used above.
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