The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' drive to keep their Super Bowl-winning roster together continues and is now hitting all corners of the depth chart.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers re-signed 12th-year defensive lineman Steve McLendon, who first joined the team through a trade with the New York Jets last October. Acquired shortly after Vita Vea landed on injured reserve, McLendon provided valuable interior-line depth and appeared in 12 games, including the playoffs. He was also praised for being a strong veteran presence in the locker room.
Though they were initially faced with a long list of pending free agents, the Buccaneers have managed to keep all 22 of their starters from Super Bowl LV, but that was just the start of keeping the team together. McLendon is yet another key reserve who has also re-signed with Tampa Bay, joining the likes of Kevin Minter, Ross Cockrell, Josh Wells, Aaron Stinnie and Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who became a starter after Vea's injury.
As part of a rotation with Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Will Gholston, McLendon contributed 17 tackles and two tackles for loss during the regular season and helped the Buccaneers field the NFL's best run defense. He added five tackles and three quarterback hits in three postseason games, including a tackle and a QB hit in Tampa Bay's 31-9 victory over Kansas City in the Super Bowl. Overall, McLendon was on the field for 334 defensive snaps, a little over a third of the team's total in the 12 games in which he played.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, McLendon played six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was in his fifth campaign in New York before the trade. He has appeared in 153 regular-season games with 90 starts and has amassed 265 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 43 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two passes defensed. He started 59 of the 65 games he played for the Jets.
McLendon has also appeared in the playoffs in four different seasons, including the 2011, 2014 and 2015 campaigns for Pittsburgh. He has played in seven postseason games with two starts and has 13 tackles and three quarterback hits. He initially entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Troy in 2009 and made the Steelers' roster in 2010 after one year on the practice squad.