Could the Miami Dolphins have interest in Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, who is set to hit free agency on Tuesday? According to a report from NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, there is a "lot of buzz" about the Dolphins interest in Mendenhall right now. Could the Dolphins really be looking to add Mendenhall, or is this simply a case of a rumor being leaked, using the Dolphins as a way for Mendenhall's camp to drive up his price?
In five seasons with the Steelers, Mendenhall has run for 3,549 yards on 864 carries, with 29 touchdowns. However, last year, Mendenhall only played six games, carrying the ball 51 times for just 182 yards. Mendenhall battled an Achilles tendon injury for most of last season, but is seen as a running back with low mileage at this point in his career.
Quick thought on RB free agency - Mendenhall has fewer carries in the NFL than Montee Ball had in the NCAA. Not much tread on those tires— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 9, 2013
Mendenhall is not going to come into Miami to be the Dolphins' feature back, if the interest in him is real. But, he could be an upgrade to the second running back position, assumed to belong to third year runner Daniel Thomas right now. Thomas has disappointed thus far in his career, being timid when hitting the hole, despite his size and power, and has had injury problems over the past two years.
Could the Dolphins be looking at Mendenhall as a way to ensure they have a power back behind Miller? That could make sense.
Obviously, Mendenhall is not going to be the offensive firepower Dolphins fans are looking for from this offseason, but he could be a smart move if he is willing to come to the team cheaply, and sit in the second spot on the depth chart.
Mendenhall is coming off his rookie contract, averaging just under $2 million per year over the last five years.