The NFL running back market quickly is drying up. Just minutes after news broke that Reggie Bush agreed to a four-year contract with the Detroit Lions, Rashard Mendenhall's agent tweeted Wednesday that the running back is joining the Arizona Cardinals on a one-year contract.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah reported Wednesday, citing sources, that Mendenhall's one-year contract is worth $2.5 million. Mendenhall potentially could earn up to $1 million more in incentives, according to Jeremiah.
It's a great move for the Cardinals and an interesting gambit by Mendenhall. He's betting on himself. Instead of taking a low-cost, long-term deal, Mendenhall will hit free agency again in 2014. After averaging more than 1,100 rushing yards with 10 scores from 2009 to 2011, Mendenhall wound up hitting the market after his worst season.
Mendenhall knows new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians' system from their days together with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mendenhall is a powerful runner who won't be asked to be a great receiver. That's not what Arians wants.
"I've said before, he's a big man with little feet, meaning he can run like he's 180 (pounds) but also can pound the ball like he's 230," Arians said, via The Associated Press.
The Cardinals released Beanie Wells with this move in mind. LaRod Stephens-Howling is a free agent, so Mendenhall will share carries with Ryan Williams in a promising backfield. Arians loves to air the ball out vertically, but this Cardinals offense might be built around the power running game.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.