According to Greg Auman of The Athletic, defensive tackle Steve McLendon will be re-joining the Bucs on a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum of $1.075 with a signing bonus of $137,500. In a similar fashion to Tampa Bay’s recent signing of running back Giovani Bernard, this signing takes advantage of the league’s veteran salary benefit and his deal will only count for $987,500 against the salary cap.
For more information on the league’s veteran salary benefit, here is the NFL’s description:
“Formerly known as the minimum salary benefit, the veteran salary benefit allow teams to offer a “Qualifying Contract” to any player with at least four credited seasons at a reduced salary cap hit. Under this provision, a qualifying contract is a one-year deal worth the minimum base salary applicable to a player with his number of credited seasons, plus $137,500 in additional compensation (i.e., signing bonus, roster bonus, incentive, etc. — amount begins to increase in 2022). These contracts are charged against the salary cap at the rate of a player with two credited seasons that league year.”
McLendon, 35, joined the Bucs via a mid-season trade with the New York Jets in 2020 following an injury to starting nose tackle Vita Vea. At 34-years old, McLendon saw action in Tampa Bay’s final nine games of the regular season and three of their playoff games, totaling 22 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and three quarterback hits. He was a key part of the team’s second straight season as the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, despite being the oldest defensive tackle to take a snap last year at 34 years old.
Tampa Bay has now not only returned all 22 starters from their Super Bowl-winning roster but also brought back their key depth pieces along the interior defensive line in Rakeem Nunes-Roches and McLendon.
The Bucs have now re-signed 13 of their own free agents this offseason, with Bernard the lone new signing. The only free agents from last year’s team that remain unsigned are WR Antonio Brown, RB LeSean McCoy, QB Blaine Gabbert, QB Ryan Griffin, RB T.J. Logan, RB Kenjon Barner and LB Deone Bucannon.