BREAKING: Jets’ Steve McLendon traded to Tampa Bay

Steve McLendon has been a quality veteran piece for the New York Jets since 2016. Coming over from Pittsburgh, he had decently high expectations. Ranked by PFF as one of the most efficient nose tackles in the game, the Jets were looking to gain a reliable piece upfront.

Since then, McClendon has provided that and then some on the field, McClendon has been a formidable piece for the squad. With his last season totaling up 36 tackles, seven QB hits, 10 TFL’s, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Not only that, but McClendon has not missed a game since 2017. McClendon is also a vocal leader and someone, the coaching staff, has been immensely complimentary of.

Per Jim Stroud, McLendon has been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he reunites with former Jets had Coach Todd Bowles. In his last season with Bowles, McClendon had 3.5 sacks, 7TFL’s, a forced fumble, and 28 tackles. McClendon adds a veteran presents upfront to an already stout buccaneer defense.

As for the Jets, this is a sign of full-on rebuild mode. After releasing an offense of leader and playmaker and Le’Veon Bell earlier this week, they now followed it up by trading away a defensive captain in an eye-opening move. With the deadline just a few days away, you’d have to wonder if this is a signal of more to come. With the bulk of the Jets’ top players on short term deals and the team now sitting at 0-6, it would make more sense than not to begin the deconstruction now.

In terms of compensation, the Jets will send a 2023 7th Round selection along with him in order to gain a 2022 6th rounder. At 34 years old, yes, he does provide value, but he was likely not going to fetch anything more than a late rounder. Still, the Jets were able to shed cap, provide young guys opportunities to step up, and earn a role in the future, while also giving McClendon a much-deserved opportunity on a contender.

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Defensive Line

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each New York Jets position group within the organization and grade each group. Today’s group is one that is full of talent from top to bottom. From vets to high potential young pieces, this group is not about the individuals but rather the collective unit itself. Gregg Williams is a mastermind in defensive line rotations, and that showed last season. With one of the top rushing defenses in all of football, this group will be graded as a unit rather than as individual pieces. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the defensive line.

The Starters: Steve McLendon (NT), Henry Anderson & Quinnen Williams

The New York Jets have one key leader up front. Steve McLendon has been a consistent captain and leader in the Jets locker room. His presence is felt on the field as a run stuffer and a consistent force up the middle. He’s one of the most consistent nose tackles in the league, and I expect that to continue this season. Henry Anderson had a breakout season after being acquired from the Colts two years ago. Now, this could very well be his last season donning the green and white. Last season was a quiet year for Anderson, and if he can’t establish more of a presence, he will have a lessened role quickly. Quinnen Williams is the key x-factor of this front seven as a whole. Williams is no longer the baby he was in his first year. Williams looks more athletic and sounds more confident. He had a great camp, and I’m expecting a breakout year from the former 3rd overall selection.

Backups: John Franklin-Myers, Folorunso Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips, and Jordan Willis.

This group is one that is crucial to the defensive line’s success as a whole. All five guys are expected to play a role in the rotation immediately. Myers had an impressive camp and earned a roster spot, so it’ll be intriguing to see what kind of role he has early. Fatukasi and Phillips are two starting-caliber linemen who had phenomenal years last year. Both men established themselves as two of the most talented young pieces on the defense. Fatukasi is the likely successor to McLendon and Phillips to Anderson. Both guys will look to continue their success in 2020. Shepherd was a highly touted selection from Canada during the former regime’s run. Todd Bowles could never really find a role with him, but the same can’t be said about Williams. Shepherd has role fairly quickly as a rotational end, and I expect him to continue to grow in that spot in 2020. Willis is in a similar spot to Phillips last year, where he will need a strong season to earn a spot in the rotation, but that’s entirely plausible.

Grade: A

As I’ve said, individually, I’m not going to rave about any one piece of the puzzle. When put together, though, with the magic of Williams, this unit is incredibly talented. I fully expect them to take a step forward this year with growth from Quinnen, Fatukasi, and Phillips. I ultimately believe those three will be the key pieces of this line for the next few years. I’m excited for this group, and I’m glad that this is the one group I’ll probably give an A to of all the groups in New York.

New York Jets unveil captains for the 2020 season

With takeoff scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, the New York Jets revealed their 2020 captains on Wednesday.

The New York Jets unveiled their 2020 captains on Wednesday. Two men will each represent the offense and defense, while one more will lead the special teams unit.

Offense: QB Sam Darnold

Year three of Darnold’s Jets tenure will be his second year with the “C” patch. The 23-year-old previously held such honors in college at USC. Darnold has tallied an 11-16 record as an NFL starter thus far (including 7-6 last season) and has thrown for 5,889 yards and 36 touchdowns since his fateful New York entry in the 2018 Draft.

Offense: T George Fant

The veteran newcomer Fant is expected to be part of the Jets’ offensive line revolution. He’s the only fresh arrival to earn a patch, having spent the last four years in Seattle. Fant’s NFL journey is perhaps the perfect story for a young squad like the Jets. He entered the league undrafted out of Western Kentucky and his since transformed into a reliable blocking prescience.

Defense: S Marcus Maye

It’s about to be a big year for a certain New York safety that emerged from an SEC school and was drafted in 2017. Yes, Jamal Adams has (very publicly) moved onto Seattle, but Maye now takes over as the leader in the secondary in a contract year. It’s quite a comeback for Maye, who worked through a full season after missing ten games in 2018 due to injury. His Jets career has seen 178 tackles and four interceptions so far.

Defense: DL Steve McLendon

McLendon’s mere experience alone perhaps made him a shoo-in for captaincy honors. At 11 NFL seasons and counting (free agent arrivals Frank Gore and Joe Flacco are the only Jets with more tenure), McLendon, 34, is by far the most experienced green returnee. He has likewise risen from the ranks of the undrafted, spending seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before changing addresses in 2016. This will be McLendon’s third year as a defensive captain.

Special Teams: S Matthias Farley

Yet another player who didn’t hear his name called at his respective draft, Farley has become a favorite of coordinator Brant Boyer for his special teams prowess. The 28-year-old Notre Dame alum played 13 games in New York last season after three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, picking up 188 tackles with a horseshoe on his helmet.

The Jets open their 2020 season on Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags