Rashard Mendenhall may not be the hottest free-agent running back on the market, but this talented young man would be a perfect fit with the Denver Broncos in 2013.
The Broncos are reportedly interested in signing Mendenhall, and Denver isn't the only franchise that has him in its sights.
At the age of 25, Mendenhall already has five NFL seasons under his belt. During his tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he's shown an ability to produce at a high level, both as a runner and a receiver, and he's an effective goal-line scorer.
Between 2009 and 2011—his three finest seasons as a pro—Mendenhall rushed for 3,309 yards and 29 touchdowns and caught 66 passes for 582 yards and one touchdown.
He has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, but if he's healthy in 2013, he could be a tremendous bargain.
Here are the teams that would be the best fit for the talented young running back.
With Willis McGahee potentially on his way out (h/t TitansInsider.com's Terry McCormick), the Broncos are thin on talent at the running back position. Knowshon Moreno has the potential to be a solid starter, but Denver would be foolish to enter the season with him as its starter.
According to the Denver Post's Mike Klis, the Broncos are considering Mendenhall as a potential free-agent target. This reported interest makes sense, as Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense could really use a player like Mendenhall, who has a talent for punching the ball into the end zone.
Last year, with McGahee and Moreno shouldering most of the heavy lifting, the Broncos only scored 12 rushing touchdowns. Mendenhall rushed for 13 touchdowns in 2010, and if he's healthy this season, he'll be a big boost to Denver on the goal line.
Reggie Bush isn't on Miami's radar, according to the AP, which reports that the Dolphins haven't even tried to negotiate with him of late. The team has shown interest, however, in Mendenhall (h/t the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero).
Miami currently features two young running backs in Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, neither of whom has proven himself in the NFL as of yet.
And while the team is making a strong push to acquire weapons for young quarterback Ryan Tannehill, signing Brian Hartline to a long-term contract and looking like favorites for Mike Wallace (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter), it would be a shame to let the running back position fall by the wayside.
The Cardinals featured the worst rushing attack in the NFL last year as they were able to average just 75.3 yards per contest.
Which team is the best fit for Mendenhall?
The team's leading rusher of a year ago, LaRod Stephens-Howling, is a free agent, and Beanie Wells, while loaded with talent, hasn't been able to stay healthy since becoming a pro back in 2009.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (subscription required) recently speculated that Mendenhall would be a good fit with the Cardinals, citing the connection between the running back and former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who is now the head coach of the Cardinals.
This seems like a match made in heaven, as it would give Mendenhall the opportunity to be the team's starter from the beginning of training camp and would give Arizona the threat on the ground it has been missing the past few seasons.
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