The Arizona Cardinals were in need of a running back, and they got one via free agency.
According to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, Rashard Mendenhall, who spent the last five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has agreed on a one-year deal with the team. It is being reported to be worth $2.5 million.
Mendenhall later confirmed the news:
— Rashard Mendenhall (@R_Mendenhall) March 13, 2013
“Obviously, I know Rashard well from our time in Pittsburgh and I hold him in very, very high regard,” said Cardinals coach Bruce Arians in a press release. “As a running back he’s the total package. He’s a big, strong, every-down back with speed who can pass block and also catch the ball. I’ve said before: he’s a big man with little people feet, meaning he can run like he’s 180 (pounds) but also pound the ball like he’s 230. When we were together in Pittsburgh he was a four-plus yards per carry kind of back and those guys are very valuable.”
A 25-year-old who was drafted 23rd overall by the Steelers in 2008, Mendenhall has shown promise but has yet to put it all together and become a featured back. The one-year contract with Arizona will allow him to prove himself in hopes of earning a longer contract while also giving the team another option at the position.
And he has much to prove.
Mendenhall’s rookie season was cut short due to a fractured shoulder, but he went on to rush for 1,108 and 1,273 yards, respectively, over the next two seasons while also tallying 20 touchdowns on the ground. Mendenhall had picked up 928 yards and nine scores in 2011 before tearing his ACL late in the season. He played in six games the next season but wasn’t nearly as effective.
It was a bad season all the way around for the running back, as the team suspended him for a game against the Dallas Cowobys after he chose not to show up for the previous week’s game, in which he was deactivated.
The 5-foot-10, 225-pound back reunites with former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who is now the head coach in Arizona.