The Pittsburgh Steelers' nose tackle plans are coming into focus.
They like Steve McLendon and want him back, but at a price. Basically, they won't pay big money for a player who won't see the field much for them. A nose tackle in a true 3-4 set will be used about 25 to 30 percent of the time in this defense. The Steelers have relayed this message, and they are prepared to enhance Dan McCullers' role if necessary.
As a result, McLendon finds himself in New York this week. He's visiting the Jets. A reference point for him could be Al Woods, who just got a reported three-year deal worth up to $10.5 million from the Titans.
Barring new developments, it's looking like the Steelers won't pay enough to keep McLendon unless his market falls back to them. Given the lack of depth with free-agent nose tackles, here's to betting McLendon can do slightly better financially on the open market.
Re-signing McLendon seems like the sensible thing to do on paper. He keeps continuity up front. But the Steelers find themselves a bit stuck here. They know linemen Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt will play a majority of the snaps, and McLendon is sort of the odd man out. It's not a production thing but a logistical one.
Meanwhile, McCullers has a chance this offseason to prove he's worth more playing time. The man can move people. He's every bit of 6-foot-7 and 348 pounds. But he didn't take ownership of a job last training camp and didn't look comfortable on the field. The team has challenged him to get in better shape and put in the necessary work in the film room. Stay tuned on him.