TAMPA ― Steve McLendon was one of the unsung stars of the Bucs’ Super Bowl team last season, providing depth and a veteran presence on the defensive line after Vita Vea was injured.
McLendon’s trade from the Jets to the Bucs in October — after Vea suffered a broken leg in a Week 5 loss to the Bears — was among the transactions that went a little under the radar.
But McLendon’s performance and experience earned him another one-year contract with Tampa Bay Wednesday.
McLendon, 35, played in nine games during the regular season with 17 tackles, including two tackles for loss.
After missing the wild-card game at Washington while on the reserve/COVID-19 list, McLendon recorded five tackles and three quarterback hits over the remainder of the postseason.
For the second straight season, the Bucs had the top rushing defense in the NFL.
The Bucs still have a need for interior defensive linemen in the NFL draft. Ndamukong Suh is 34. He and McLendon are unsigned for 2022, and William Gholston, who will be 30 in July, is in the final year of his contract.
Khalil Davis, a sixth-round pick out of Nebraska in 2020, played in only two games last season.
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