TAMPA — Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon had a big advocate when the Bucs began considering players to swing a deal for following the season-ending injury to Vita Vea.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was once McLendon’s head coach with the Jets, knew exactly how he would perform in the Bucs' system.
The Bucs traded for McLendon Sunday, shortly after he finished playing for the Jets in a game at Miami.
"They asked me, and yes, I stood on the table for him,'' Bowles said. “We need depth down there. ... You rarely get through the season with the guys you have. It’s a long season, he’s a quality player, he can help us, if not now, then down the line (and) he was a good guy to get for us. Any time you can get a good player and a good person, you try to get him.”
McLendon, 34, played in 144 games and recorded 158 solo tackles, 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
In exchange for McLendon, the Bucs sent a sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Jets and received the Jets' seventh-rounder in 2023.
"He’s not just a great locker room guy. He has a great motor,'' Bowles said. “He’s a very good nose tackle. ... He brings energy, he brings toughness (and) he brings strength to us. He’ll fit in quite well with the guys.”
McLendon hasn’t cleared COVID-19 protocol, but that could happen as early as Friday.
Upon hearing of the trade, McLendon was willing to take a car sent from the Bucs to Miami Sunday and travel overnight to Tampa Bay so he could begin the process of being cleared to play.
"That’s the kind of guy he is,'' Bowles said. "He’s a heck of a teammate, he’s a heck of a guy, he’s a heck of a leader and when he goes after something, he goes 100 percent. That’s what you appreciate about him.”