It's almost never the case that an NFL player suits up for a team if there's a chance he could be traded elsewhere, let alone if he's already been dealt. But that was not the case with Steve McLendon. Acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the New York Jets as part of a swap of draft picks this week, the veteran defensive lineman is preparing to make his Bucs debut on Sunday. But McLendon told reporters Friday that he was actually informed of the trade before his last game with the Jets ... and still went on to play that entire contest for New York.
The 34-year-old McLendon, who has been reunited with former Jets coach Todd Bowles in Tampa, was apparently told before the Jets' Sunday game against the Miami Dolphins that a car would be waiting for him after the fact, presumably to take him to the airport for a trip to Buccaneers facilities. That's not necessarily unusual, except for the fact that McLendon was not only active for the Jets-Dolphins game, but played 43 percent of the team's defensive snaps, logging four tackles and obviously putting himself at risk of injury two days before his trade to Tampa Bay was officially announced.
So how does something like this happen? There are only two plausible explanations: Either McLendon got his timeline really mixed up, or at least one side of this trade failed to practice common sense. Even if McLendon was simply informed he was likely to be traded after the game and the deal had yet to be finalized, it stands to reason the Jets would want to preserve their asset's health in order to keep talks alive, or that the Buccaneers would unofficially require McLendon sit out for the same reason. It's possible neither side valued McLendon so much that they demanded he not risk any injury prior to the move -- he was part of a trade of two late-round draft picks, after all -- but still marks some rare and, frankly, inexplicable roster management.