While it is not surprising the Cardinals were on the hunt for a new running back, after releasing Beanie Wells; the fact Mendenhall will be returning to a coach who was felt to have under-utilized or under-appreciated the back during their time together in Pittsburgh is surprising, but not as surprising as the length and magnitude of his new contract.
According to sources, Rashard Mendenhall's deal with Arizona is 1 year, $2.5 mil, with potential to earn extra $1 mil.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 13, 2013
Originally, many felt Mendenhall would sign with a new team because they would offer him a contract no sane man could reject, nor could the Steelers match. If these details hold true, the connections are undeniable to comments he made following his one-game suspension earlier this season, and following the season itself.
Mendenhall has always felt unwanted in Pittsburgh, and was planning to explore free-agency for a fresh start. While he was rumored to have visits scheduled with the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins, evidently Arizona's offer was the best of the bunch, or he just really wanted to play with Arians again.
Either way, Steelers fans can stop crossing their fingers in hopes the team would retain their former first-round draft pick from 2008. However, Cardinals fans may now begin crossing their own in hopes of Mendenhall remaining healthy for entire seasons, something Wells was unable to do. Mendenhall missed parts of 2012 to rehabilitating a torn ACL and an Achilles heel injury.
Like him or not, the Steelers will miss his experience and ability, even if the player never misses his former team or fans.