While the Buccaneers were playing in Tampa Bay and the Jets were playing in Miami on Sunday afternoon, the teams’ personnel staffers were working on a trade that sent defensive tackle Steve McLendon to Tampa Bay. Directly to Tampa Bay.
McLendon didn’t fly back to New York with the Jets and instead got in a car and drove directly to Tampa, according to Peter Schrager of NFL Network.
It’s unusual for players to get traded on game day, and unusual for players to immediately hop in a car and drive themselves to their new teams. But this is an unusual season, and the league’s COVID-19 protocols require newly arrived players to submit multiple negative tests before they’re permitted to practice and play for a new team. By getting to Tampa immediately, McLendon increased his chances of getting everything squared away in time for him to play in the Bucs’ next game, Sunday at Las Vegas.
McLendon started every game for the Jets this season and is expected to have an immediate impact in Tampa, where he’ll be playing for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, his former Jets head coach. The Buccaneers lost defensive tackle Vita Vea to a season-ending leg injury, and they hope McLendon can pick up some of the slack.