Unrestricted free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall , who played last season with the Arizona Cardinals will retire, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported via his Twitter account Saturday night.
Mendenhall was selected by Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2008 draft and played five seasons in Pittsburgh before coming to the desert to play for the Cardinals in 2013. While he did Arizona in rushing yards (687) and touchdowns (8), he was less than impressive when given carries, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry. He spent much of the season simply frustrating a Cardinals fanbase who would have rather seen the bulk of the carries go to rookie Andre Ellington, who averaged 5.5 ypc. Ellington ran for almost as many yards as Mendenhall on 99 fewer carries.
Mendenhall is retiring... from a fantasy perspective, this is not huge news. Anyone who retires from the NFL at the age of 26, simply doesn't have the desire to play anymore. From my perspective, Mendenhall is to be commended for this decision. He could have stayed in the league for a handful more years, made several million dollars, and frustrated fantasy owners who were just hoping he'd recatch the form that made him a 1,200 yard /13 touchdown back in 2010.
As for what this DOES mean... There was concern that Bruce Arians may try to squeeze another year out of "his guy". He was the one who brought Mendenhall to Arizona, after having coached him during better times in Pittsburgh. Now that this is not a possibility, Andre Ellington is set to be a fantasy beast in 2014. He had a good rookie season that could have been great, given more opportunities. His 5.5 ypc clip is mind-boggling and not surprising at the same time. If you saw the kid play last season, you saw that he had a natural ability to find holes and hit them for big plays. Oh, and he's pretty good at catching the ball out of the backfield, too.
And let's not forget 2nd year RB Stepfan Taylor . This surely gives him the opportunity he's been looking for as well. Personally speaking, I love Ellington in 2014. Lock him in as a top 10 RB... potentially top 5 in PPR formats.