When it comes to free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers have very rarely dipped more than a toe in the pool, though they have had quite a bit of success with players ranging from Kevin Greene to Mike Mitchell making significant contributions to the team.
But the Steelers have also had their fair share of players move on from the team to join another, and as you might imagine, their range of results is quite expansive. The team has lost some notable players just this past year in Lawrence Timmons, Markus Wheaton, and Jarvis Jones.
Over the course of the summer leading up to training camp, as suggested by one of our readers, I’m going to be taking a look at the post-Steelers careers of some of the team’s most notable free agency departures.
Player: DT Steve McLendon
Years in Pittsburgh: 6
Signed with: Jets in 2016
11 games, 9 starts, 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
After the Steelers parted ways with longtime starting nose tackle Casey Hampton, they turned to his budding protégé, Steve McLendon, to take his place in his third season. He started there for the team over three seasons, but saw his playing time drastically cut in the third year because their usage of the nose tackle declined rapidly.
Due in large part to that fact, Pittsburgh wasn’t willing to pay all that much to re-sign McLendon, but it did force them to invest a third-round pick in Javon Hargrave. As for the former Steeler, he flashed the pass-rush potential we were waiting for years to see by posting three and a half sacks in 11 games, though all of them came in just two contests.
He filled some big shoes vacated by Damon Harrison, who defected from the Jets to the Giants. While he certainly was a regression in terms of playing the run, he may have offered a bit more against the pass.
Still, there has been some speculation on our part as to whether or not New York would cut bait after one year. After all, the Jets have been jettisoning quite a bit of their roster since we first started talking about it, and there is talk that they are not done trimming veterans yet.
As we work our way back in time, you’ll find that quite a few Steelers who chose to leave in free agency ended up back in the black and gold within a couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised if McLendon is yet another one, who he would have to accept a reduced role. He is already 31 as well.