The Pittsburgh Steelers were on the verge of losing yet another player this offseason. Restricted free agent nose tackle Steve McLendon just signed a three-year deal with the Steelers.
McLendon, who is getting ready to enter his fourth year in the league, met with the Green Bay Packers yesterday. This is coming off the heels of Pittsburgh matching the offer given by the New England Patriots for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Signing McLendon before the Packers could give an offer was a smart move. Had Green Bay signed a deal with McLendon, the Steelers would have had to find a way to scrape up enough money to attempt to match the Packers’ offer. The only way that was going to happen was to restructure the contract of someone like Troy Polamalu.
Not only was inking McLendon a smart move from a financial standpoint, it was also wise to do so because of the depth (or lack thereof) at the nose tackle position. McLendon is more than likely to be next in line to fill the starting role at nose tackle. The chances of long-time veteran Casey Hampton returning for another season are slim-to-none. Furthermore, the Steelers’ other nose tackle, Alameda Ta’amu, still needs a lot of work.
Most importantly, this signing means that the Steelers don’t have to alter their plans for this week’s 2013 NFL Draft. Had McLendon ended up with the Packers, Pittsburgh would have had to move the position of nose tackle very high on their list of things to shop for during the draft. Therefore, possibly missing out on a much-needed pass rusher and wide receiver in the early rounds.
McLendon is a player that has steadily improved year after year with the Steelers, but was never really given a chance to fully show what he is capable of doing. This season should be the year where McLendon makes himself known throughout the league.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google