In what would make the second official loss today, Kimberley Martin of NewsDay Sports is reporting former Pittsburgh Steeles’ nose tackle Steve McLendon is expected to sign with the New York Jets.
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) March 15, 2016
McLendon had previously visited with the team, who lost Damon Harrison to the New York Giants at the start of free agency. He reportedly has signed a 3 year deal worth up to $12 million.
The big issue around McLendon appeared to boil down to playing time. A strictly rotational piece in Pittsburgh due to their increasing sub-package football, he officially played only about one-third of the time in the regular season. Compare that to Harrison, who saw well over 50% of the Jets’ snaps last year.
McLendon will finish his Steelers career with 32 starts, racking up five sacks and two forced fumbles. He was able to stay healthy all season long, something he had yet to due since cracking the lineup. Terms of the deal have not been announced. He joined the Steelers as a UDFA out of Troy in 2009.
The Steelers now have their biggest – and maybe really only – true void on their roster. Daniel McCullers is the only other nose tackle with experience but his play was below average at best and he is not suited to defend horizontal, zone schemes. He also offers little as a pass rusher in sub-package, though could be disruptive in base, seeing more one-on-one rushes against centers.
The nose tackle market is poor and given how strong this defensive line class is, it would be wise to upgrade in the draft. Andrew Billings and Vernon Butler will become popular picks.