Mendenhall signs five-year, $12.555 million deal with Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers signed first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall to a five-year deal on Friday.

Mendenhall's contract is worth $12.555 million, including $7.125 million guaranteed, reports NFL Network's Adam Schefter.

"Both Rashard and I are thrilled," said Mendenhall's agent, Mike McCartney. "It's always an anxious time before training camp for players. He can now put the business side behind him. ... and work on helping the team win. That's what he wants to focus on."

The 23rd overall pick played at Illinois and combines speed and power. He's expected to return kicks and perhaps spell Willie Parker, who is returning from a season-ending broken leg.

Parker, an undrafted free agent, has rushed for more than 1,202 yards in all three NFL seasons he has started, and carried the ball more than 650 times the last two seasons. Parker had 337 carries in 2006 and 321 last season, despite missing most of the final two games.

Mendenhall rushed for 2,539 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons with the Fighting Illini. He also caught 59 passes for 564 yards and five scores during that stretch.

Named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2007, Mendenhall was a Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award semifinalist. Last year, he set school records for rushing yards (1,681) and touchdowns (17).

This year is the fourth consecutive season the Steelers have signed their top draft pick in time for the start of training camp.

Limas Sweed, a wide receiver out of Texas and the Steelers' second-round pick, is the team's only unsigned draft pick, but coach Mike Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert have said they expect him to be signed in time for the start of training camp Sunday at St. Vincent College, near Latrobe.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report

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