Rehashing Rashard Mendenhall News That Really Isn\’t New News

A blog post by Ed Bouchette on Monday, that focused on Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, sent shock waves through Steeler Nation as well as the national media. It really shouldn\’t have though as it really wasn\’t new news. In his post Bouchette stated that it’s possible that Mendenhall, who tore his right ACL in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns, may have had his last carry with the Steelers. That indeed is very possible and has been since Mendenhall suffered the injury.

General Manager Kevin Colbert has left that possibility open in several interviews that he conducted leading up to the NFL combine and was quoted as saying, “I never feel good about an ACL until a year. I’m not a doctor, but that\’s my mindset. If he gets back before that, to me it\’s a bonus.” Colbert also has said he fully expects Mendenhall to start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform list). When you get the hacks like Jamison Hensley from, who picked this up as new news because he does not pay close attention to the Steelers situation on a day to day basis, you get the mass hysteria that you had today. If you think that this is a shot at Hensley, you guessed right. He is the worst has to offer and it has nothing to do with him being the former beat writer for the Baltimore Ravens. I don\’t take shots at major media often, but this one is worthy.

Back to Mendenhall now. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him a base salary of over $2 million and he will be an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. Should he start the year on the reserve PUP list, which I have stated long ago that I think he will; he will miss a minimum of six weeks to start the season, per the PUP rules. After week 6 a three week window opens up that allows Mendenhall to return to practice without counting against the Steelers 53 man roster. Once he begins practicing, a second three week window opens and Mendenhall must be activated to the 53 man roster during those three weeks, placed on injured reserve or released. So this could run all the way until week 13 at the latest.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that even while Mendenhall is on PUP and not on the 53 man roster, he still counts against the salary cap, just like players who are on injured reserve. The beauty of the PUP list is it allows you time to rehab a player without being forced to place him on injured reserve at the start at of the season. It should also be noted that players must start training camp on the ACTIVE PUP list to be eligible for the in-season RESERVE PUP list.

Now Colbert also said back in mid February that Mendenhall had not suffered a setback, and keep in mind that he did not have his surgery until the middle of January. Even if he were to have a very fast recovery time of say 7 months, that would put him returning in mid August. A more believable, albeit still not 100%, recovery time would be 9 months and that would put him being ready for action in mid October, which would be close to the 6 week mark of the PUP rules. I think that an even more realistic return would be around week 8 or 9 however, and like Colbert said, I would not expect him to be back to 100% until late in the season.

The last thing the Steelers will want to do is to rush him back and running the chance that he suffers a setback and winds up on injured reserve. You have to wonder if it is worth it to them to carry Mendenhall and his near $3.5 million plus cap hit for half a season, or even longer. That is why I have stated in the past that I would not be totally surprised if he was released prior to the start of the season if they indeed thought he would miss more than half of it. I previously posted about the injury benefit clause in the CBA, and if my research and understanding of it is correct, there is no injury grievance there and only a benefit of $1 million that Mendenhall could collect and I do not believe that is charged against the cap. I have yet to be told otherwise since that post and if you believe that to be incorrect, let me hear your argument.

So if Mendenhall were to be released prior to the start of the season, and he could only collect that $1 million benefit that would not be charged against the cap, then the Steelers would save his base salary of over $2 million against the 2012 cap and would incur a dead money charge of $1.1025 million. Now of course if he is grievance worthy and if I am wrong in stating that the injury benefit does not count against the cap, then it will not be worth cutting him and they should just ride him on PUP as long as they can.

So what about his future past this season you ask? He will be an unrestricted free agent if he stays on the roster all season and there is no way that he would get the franchise tag next year. There is also no way that he would get a big contract offer either coming off an ACL injury. He most likely, as I stated before, would much rather test the free agency waters first. So what do the Steelers really lose should they need to cut him prior to the start of the season if he is going to leave following the season? Once again let me state that this assumes he will miss at least 9 weeks or more of the season. The Steelers could certainly use that $2 million in cap space if that indeed wound up being the case.

So to wrap this up and go full circle, when Bouchette stated that Mendenhall may have had his last carry with the Steelers, it is indeed a possibility, but this possibility is one that has been in existence since he tore his ACL. It is not new news and unfortunately it is being treated as such.

  • Paul

    You really show a lack of class by taking a shot at Hensley. Make me think of what I’ve realized for awhile: I need to find a new way to stay updated about my Steelers.

  • SteelersDepot

    I certainly would not hold it against you. My style is certainly one that lacks class and it is not for everyone.

  • Paul

    I thought about it and, though I don’t think it was very nice for to say that about Hensley, it was also bad of me to rip you for it. I really shouldn’t of done that, it also wasn’t very classy, and I just like to say I really appreciate having Steelersdepot to keep me informed about my team and think you guys all do a good job. Its only natural that I don’t always agree with your opinion and actually, that’s probably a reason to visit the site. I don’t know anywhere else I could find out about stuff like them signing they guy from West Virginia who went undrafted last year. Though I’m sure a could find somewhere online, Steelersdpot does more than suffice. Please forgive me for my harsh reaction to your opinion, if at all possible, I would like to take it back.

  • Hensley has his faults, but I actually think he is a step up over James Walker, who just re-posted items from the local media with little or no analysis. At least Hensley tries.

    I got no problem with you voicing your opinion on him, people say a lot worse than that on his blog comments.

  • Do you actually think they will cut him, and if so, who do you think they will go after, draft or a vet. or stand pat?

  • Jabsosteel

    Gosh, I hope that you’re right and Mendenhall is, indeed, over. It’s way past due that we move on. Mendenhall has had more than his time to figure it out.

  • Paul

    Even though it wasn’t very nice, or “classy”, for you to rip Hensley, it was equally, or worse, for me to rip you and this site. Y’all do a commendable job getting me the news I need to know about my team (the signing of undrafted TE, Wes Lyons,etc.) Its impossible to always agree with people’s opinions, so for me to lash out and imply that your site wasn’t good enough was totally inaccurate of what I think of Steelersdepot and very bad of me. I really like the site and keep up the good work. I apologize.

  • SteelersDepot

    No worries on this end. As I stated I will never get the classiest blogger of the year award. I am very blunt and to the point.

  • Chad

    I like Hensley better than his predecessor. He posts more and will actually take a stance on things and make predictions. Of course he is a Ravens fan at heart, but I try to forget that!

  • Who cares if someone acts like an ass as long as their news and analysis is on point? I have been an ass and had people act like an ass to me on multiple sites. You get over it. 🙂

  • mghjr88

    I don’t think Hensley is an upgrade at all.

    You state that Walker simply re-posted items from the local media with little or no analysis, what do you think Hensley does? The exact same thing. All THEY do is simply check sites like the post-gazette, trib-live, steelersdepot and see what guy’s like Dulac and Buchette have to say and re-state it themselves. They really have the easiest F@ck!ng jobs to do, because apparently there is no standard to adhere by or real research to do. Walker, like Hensley, came to ESPN after beat writing for an AFC north rival. They are both “below the line”, but at least Walker wasn’t as blatantly biased as Hensley. Hensley’s almost dis-interest in covering the AFC north is maddening and I don’t see any indications of him really “trying”.

  • mghjr88

    Because of writers like Hensley, things like “ESPN Insider” and the “AFC North Blog” are basically a complete joke.

    I am elated to see someone with this kind of platform(site) give Hensley some criticism.

  • Admittedly, I haven’t been on the AFCN blog much in recent months, and when I have been on, people seem to have soured on him, but that wasn’t the impression I got from Hensley during the season. I think he is off on a lot of things, but he puts in the analysis. JW gave up well before he took the AFCE job. Of course, it could be worse, we could have Tim Graham or Matt Mosley over there. THEY were flat out hacks. Well, Graham was more of a Pats ball licker, but same thing.

  • Ugh, no way would I ever pay for Insider. They rarely have anything more insightful to add (I have friends that send me their stuff sometimes).

  • Paul M

    2 million isn’t going to hep the Steelers, Mendenhall is a 3 down back and they don’t have one on the roster. Colbert was/is being cautious with his assessment of his injury. They will draft a RB in about the third rd and he better be able to play all 3 downs. Right now the stable of RBs they have are unproven and unknown

  • Joe D

    You are correct…
    Steelers can release Mendenhall… pay him $1million… and it doesn’t count against CAP… except the dead money as you discussed above.
    I believe in 2014, that changes regarding ending the season injured, etc.
    There is a possibility Steelers will sign Mendenhall to a contract in 2013 since he will be an unrestricted agent… but it won’t be a big contract.
    RB’s are a dime a dozen… run them until the wheels come off.

    I would cut Mendenhall…. I see no upside in keeping him… and the money can be used to sign some free agent. I don’t see Mendenhall coming back in 2012 at all…

  • LouPGH

    I use the AFCN blog to stay updated on the other teams in the division when there really isn’t much going on, but I don’t rely on it for Steelers news. Anyway, I see them keeping Mendy on the shelf almost all of next season, letting him test free agency, getting no love, and resigning him on the cheap (depending on how the rest of the backs play next year).

  • Gb15351

    aww look, steelers fans mad because a writer is a ravens fan. hey dave, maybe one day you can work for a real sports website.

  • Huskie

    I agree that they’ll keep him on the roster, but I think if anything they will try to work out a low cost deal before he ever hits free agency. While I don’t think Mendy is the best back, I also think he takes too much criticism from steelersnation. He is a solid capable back who has not exactly had the best line to run behind. Hopefully the line will make some strides this year and we can sign Mendy back on the cheap and have a RBBC with some of our other guys. I don’t see us answering the runningback problem in this years draft and I think we’ll have other gaps that need filled in next years draft ie Safety, another OL, WR (don’t see all these young wr staying), and TE.

  • BettisFan36

    Here’s my thoughts regarding the situation… Last year Batch, Dryer, Moore, and Mendy all went down with injuries over the course of the season. So it might not be so bad to have someone that knows the system, such as Mendenhall, ready to fill in for someone by mid season.

  • Huskie

    Aw look guys a Ravens fan with nothing better to do than troll Steelers blogs. There must be a Ravens blog somewhere that you can talk about the Ravens awesome free agency so far

  • mghjr88

    I receive free insider access due to having a subscription to the mag. otherwise, I wouldn’t have it.

  • Jason Brown

    I don’t agree, huskie. Mendy has been the feature back for too long to be happy with being part of a RBBC. In addition, I think that it’s pretty clear by now that he’s not a goalline back even with a good line. He’s still got a problem being too tentative when hitting the hole – a problem that Redman clearly has not struggled with while having the same trouble o-line as Mendy. All in all, Mendy just doesn’t bring enough to the table for all of the struggles. I say that there are plenty of backs that could provide the same or even more upside potential.

  • Cugliettta12345

    It would be a sad day if the Steelers lose Mendy. The NFL has become a pass first league but you still need a RB to keep D’s honest. And 34 fits that. He is still very young