Just moments after Reggie Bush became a Lion, former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall landed even further west. He has agreed to a one-year deal with the Cardinals. Mendenhall arrived in Arizona last night and was reportedly going to have a visit today. Appparently, that visit went very well.
Mendenhall's 2012 season was marred by injuries. He opened the year not fully recovered from ACL surgery, and he then missed seven games due to Achilles' tendon problems. He ended up with just 51 carries in five games, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. He was held without a touchdown.
I don't really get this one for the Cardinals. It's only a one-year, "prove it" deal, so it doesn't really hurt them, and Mendenhall is still pretty young -- he is entering his age-26 season. Plus, he is back with Bruce Arians, his old offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh when Mendenhall was putting up the biggest numbers of his career. But Arians just said last week that he wants a running back who can carry the load; he doesn't want to use a committee attack. However, it looks like he has that committee in Mendenhall and Ryan Williams .
Granted, Williams has never been able to stay healthy, and perhaps the team believes he will always be fragile. But I find it hard to believe that the Cardinals are ready to give up on a 2011 first-round pick. I expect these two to hold some sort of training camp battle to see which player deserves the most carries.
Also keep in mind that Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website said earlier today that, even after the Mendenhall signing, it wouldn't surprise him if Arizona spent a draft pick on a running back, which could complicate matters even further.
AND ... remember that the Cardinals' offensive line was supremely awful in 2012.
In short, this backfield is a messy situation with more questions than answers right now. It'll be a while before we get a good read on who is the more valuable running back and just how valuable he is.