Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon has managed to do two key things this season and it is time he gets recognition for them.
To start with, McLendon has managed to stay healthy in 2015 after missing a few games last season with shoulder and ankle injuries. That’s resulted in him playing 340 total defensive snaps so far this season which puts him on pace for a career high in that statistical category.
Additionally, while McLendon has only registered 12 total tackles so far this season, the Steelers defense has benefitted from his play against the run when he’s been on the field as opponents have only averaged 2.18 yards per carry in those situations.
McLendon will be an unrestricted free agent during the upcoming offseason and due to the slow development of backup Daniel McCullers, the Steelers really need to think about re-signing him as he also proved in 2015 that he can give quality snaps in their sub package defense in addition to playing some at defensive end in the base 3-4.
In 2013, McLendon signed a three-year, $7.25 million contract that included a $1.675 million signing bonus and one would think he’ll command a similar deal in order to retain him during the offseason. A three-year deal worth $9 million with a $2 million signing bonus would put McLendon in the top-5 when it comes to the highest paid 3-4 defensive tackles in the league. That’s not a lot of guaranteed money for a player of his quality.
For a player who is about to turn 30, McLendon certainly doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him and while nose tackles in a 3-4 defense don’t see a lot of playing time in today’s pass-happy NFL that requires a lot of sub packages to be played, it’s still a very important position when it comes to defending the run on early downs in addition to defending short-yardage situations.
It will be disappointing if McLendon is not re-signed during the offseason and he should be considered a big loss if he’s allowed to leave.