Bucs DT Steve McLendon Played in Final Game With Jets Despite Learning of Trade

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Recently acquired Buccaneers defensive tackle Steve McLendon told reporters Friday that he found out the Jets were trading him to Tampa last Saturday but nevertheless played for New York on Sunday.

McLendon, who was shipped to Tampa with a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round selection, said he was told Saturday night a car would be waiting for him after Sunday's Jets-Dolphins game in Miami to drive him to Tampa.

"I was like, 'OK,'" McLendon told reporters. "Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, 'This is one last ride.' I told my boys, I was like, 'This is one last ride together.' A lot of guys were saying, 'Man, you're really gonna play?' And I was like, 'Man, this could be the last time I play with y'all in my career.' I said, 'Let's go out here and make it a great one. Let's go have some fun.'"

McLendon played in 43% of the Jets' defensive snaps on Sunday, totaling four tackles, his single-game high this season. New York lost 24-0 to Miami.

As a result of the deal, the 34-year-old tackle will reunite with Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Because he drove directly to Tampa on Sunday and entered into COVID-19 protocols, McLendon is eligible to play this Sunday when Tampa plays the Raiders.

Kickoff for Sunday's Buccaneers-Raiders game is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.