Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon had a great 2015 season as not only did the former undrafted free agent stay healthy all year, he made a difference when he was on the field and especially against the run. In fact, during the regular season, opposing offenses had a 2.31 yards per rush average when McLendon was on the field.
In a little more than month from right now, McLendon will become an unrestricted free agent and because of that, the Steelers would be wise to get him re-signed prior to the start of the new league year. The same goes for veteran’s William Gay and guard Ramon Foster as along with McLendon, the team really can’t afford to lose all three of those players.
So, how much would it cost to get McLendon re-signed prior to the start of the new league year? In my opinion, the Troy product will likely want and deserve a yearly average of between $3-3.5 million as that would have him in the top 5 as it relates to the highest paid 3-4 defensive tackles. We’ll split the difference with him and give him $3.25 million over the course of three years.
Now, the real catch in a three-year, $9.75 million contract for McLendon will be the amount of guaranteed money as well as the structure. By giving him a $2.25 million signing bonus and a first-year base salary of $1 million, McLendon would earn $3.25 million in 2016. It’s really semantics as far as whether or not that base salary would be guaranteed. For the sake of this example, we’ll say it is guaranteed. In other words, 33.3333333% of McLendon’s contract would be guaranteed upon him signing it.
The rest of the base salaries for McLendon are pretty easy to fill in as you know he’ll expect to stay close to a $3.25 million yearly average. For 2017 and 2018 they could be $3 and $3.5 million respectively for the sale of this example.
Not only is this a good contract for McLendon, it’s also great for the Steelers. First, McLendon’s 2016 cap charge would only be $1.75 million. Second, after the 2016 season, McLendon would only have $1.5 million in potential dead money associated with his contract. In other words, it would be super easy to cut him any time moving forward past 2016.
Personally, I will be shocked if the Steelers aren’t able to get McLendon signed to a contract similar to the one I just laid out prior to the start of free agency. We’ll see.
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