Multiple articles have surfaced over the past couple of days surrounding Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall. The general consensus is that Mendenhall will likely start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list meaning that he will mandatorily miss the first six games of the season. This is not surprising as a torn ACL takes a long time to heal and Mendenhall just had surgery on the first of the year.
Rehabbing a torn ACL is tough enough for most athletes, but is even harder for players in skill positions. Mendenhall will need to rehab his knee to be able to run, and then regain his speed and maneuverability. The last part is the hardest especially for a running back who needs to be able to cut and make moves on the field.
With this knowledge it was no surprise that Art Rooney, the Steelers president, stated that he was not counting on Mendenhall in 2012. Fans took this to believe that cutting Mendenhall was now the best option. However, cutting Mendenhall wouldn’t save the Steelers a drastic amount of money due to his cap hit and would mean the Steelers would, most likely, need to add another running back to the roster.
Cutting Mendenhall would save a total of $1 million dollars of his $3.5 million salary. So basically you have $2.5 million in dead money by cutting him.
The Steelers would be better off letting him rehab and see where he is at the beginning of the season. If he has to be placed on the PUP list then you do it and hope that he provides a boost to the team midway through the season. Also, with Mendenhall missing part of the season and likely not being the starter when he returns (I see Redman taking over) it is possible that he could be resigned to a reasonable contract.
The NFL has moved to a multiple running back league and a mix of Redman and Mendenhall would be a solid stable for a few more years as both are still young. Signing Mendenhall to a 3 year deal at around $6 million would be a bargain and with him missing time and sharing carries it is unlikely another team will see enough from him to offer a large contract.