Former Arizona Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall is retiring, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The 26-year-old halfback had hinted at his retirement in a column on his Huffington Post blog in late February in which he told the story of a "vision" he saw the day after tearing his ACL in January 2012:
That day I sat on my couch two years ago was the very next day after I tore my ACL in week 17. The journey I envisioned is the two years of rebuilding that would follow. And as I write this, today is the day that the journey is over and I am fully at peace. Eagerly looking to a new way, which lies ahead.
Mendenhall, a former first-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers, spent six seasons in the league. He ran for 4,236 yards on 1,081 career attempts, including back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2009 and 2010. Mendenhall's torn ACL, suffered in the Steelers' final regular season game of the 2011 season, and his rehab coupled with additional problems left him off the Pittsburgh depth chart for most of 2012. He joined Arizona on a one-year contract last season, running 217 times for for 687 yards and eight touchdowns.
Matt Cassel re-signs with Minnesota
The Vikings reached an agreement with quarterback Matt Cassel Friday, signing the veteran signal caller to a two-year, $10 million contract. Cassel previously opted out of the second year of his earlier contract with the club, and rumored interest from the Houston Texans drove up Cassel's price.
Cassel was part of the Vikings' ongoing quarterback carousel last season, splitting snaps with Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman. He played in nine games for Minnesota in 2013, throwing for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns. While Ponder returns next season, the size of the contract and Cassel's success as a starter late in the season make him the prohibitive favorite to start in 2014.
While Cassel didn't light the world on fire last year, he did lead the team to a 3-3 record during his 6 starts and showed some developing chemistry with wide receiver Greg Jennings. The offense clearly rallied behind him late in the year after a maddening back and forth on the QB carousel. This move allows the Vikings to stay the course with Matt Cassel in the short term and won't force them to reach for a quarterback in the upcoming draft. I do think the Vikings should take a quarterback they like in the first few rounds if one is there with the right value, but with Cassel and Ponder on the roster in 2014 the need at quarterback is slightly less than it would have been with only Ponder on board.
The Vikings can now start rebuilding a defense that is in need of help at nearly every position.
Matt Schaub drawing interest from Browns, Raiders and Jets
Soon-to-be former Houston quarterback Matt Schaub will be a target of the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and NFL.com's Marc Sessler. Schaub, who has been the starting quarterback in Houston since 2007, had a disastrous 2013 season. He played in 10 games, throwing for 2,310 yards, 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and was benched for much of October and November. With a new coaching staff in Houston and the first pick in the upcoming Draft to use, most expect the Texans to let Schaub walk.
Cleveland and Oakland are both expected to target rookie quarterbacks in the Draft, and could use the veteran quarterback as a stopgap measure. The Jets are likely looking at Schaub as a security blanket for Geno Smith, especially if they decide to cut Mark Sanchez. It remains to be seen whether Schaub, who posted three 4,000-yard seasons in the four years prior to the 2013 meltdown, would be interested in a backup or mentoring role.
Arizona waives OG Daryn Colledge
The Arizona Cardinals cut left guard Daryn Colledge Saturday, freeing nearly $3 million in salary cap space. Colledge joined Arizona as a free agent in 2011 after five seasons with Green Bay. The former second-round draft pick started every game for the Cardinals in the last three seasons.
As Revenge of the Birds writes, Colledge's departure could save the team millions in salary:
The move saves the team $5 million in actual salary, as he was scheduled to make $4.8 million in salary and earn a $200,000 workout bonus. Against the salary cap, the team frees up at least $2.725 million, as cutting him creates $4.55 million in dead money against the salary cap.
The Cardinals' 2013 first-round pick, Jonathan Cooper, is expected to start at left guard for Arizona next season, and Arizona has returning starter Paul Fanaika at right guard, making Colledge an expensive luxury for a team looking for a breakthrough 2014.