August 19, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon (90) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers sign Steve McLendon to 3-year deal

The Pittsburgh Steelers avoided a crisis Thursday when they were able to come to terms with one of their restricted free agents.

The team announced that it has come to a three-year deal with nose tackle Steve McLendon, putting to rest any rumors that he could potentially sign an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers.

Nov 25, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Steve McLendon (90) before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Cleveland won 20-14. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

McLendon originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Troy University on April 27, 2009. He has played in 37 career games and one playoff game.

The fourth-year pro saw action in all 16 games during the 2012 season, recording a career-high two sacks and forcing his first career fumble.

The contract calls for a max value of $7.25 million, including $1.675 million guaranteed. It’s worth $5million in first two years, but it will take some maneuvering by the Steelers as they were currently only $800K under the salary cap.

Re-signing McLendon is big just for the fact that the team has little depth at the defensive tackle position.

McLendon looked good during the preseason last year, but it is far from certain that he will be capable of anchoring the Steelers defensive line for the foreseeable future. Despite being in the league for four years, McLendon is still a guy who is thin on experience.

He will be asked to fill the shoes of veteran Casey Hampton, but being that Hamptons wasn’t very effective last season, it makes sense to see if McLendon is the nose tackle of the future.

The Steelers gambled by placing a low tender on McLendon, but ended up getting their man regardless.

They allowed the Packers to basically drive up the price a bit, but I feel better with having McLendon in the black-and-gold then having a bare cupboard up front.

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