Published March 13, 2013
| Sports Network
Tempe, AZ – The Arizona Cardinals announced the signing of five free agents on Wednesday, a crop which included former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall as well as cornerback Jerraud Powers and quarterback Drew Stanton.
The Cardinals also came to terms on a three-year deal with former Washington linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and a one-year pact with veteran safety Yeremiah Bell, a move that in turn triggered the release of holdover Kerry Rhodes.
Mendenhall gives Arizona a two-time 1,000-yard rusher to its backfield, though the former first-round pick managed just 182 yards and 3.6 yards per carry during an injury-plagued 2012 campaign in which he was limited to only six games.
Over the three seasons prior to last, however, Mendenhall averaged 1,103 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as the feature back in an offense then coordinated by Bruce Arians, now the Cardinals' head coach.
"Obviously, I know Rashard well from our time in Pittsburgh and I hold him in very, very high regard," said Arians. "As a running back he's the total package. He's a big, strong, every-down back with speed who can pass block and also catch the ball."
Stanton also has a history with Arians, with the two having worked together while with the Indianapolis Colts last season. Prior to serving as Andrew Luck's backup, the 28-year-old spent five years with the Detroit Lions and compiled 1,158 passing yards with five touchdowns and nine interceptions over 12 appearances, four of which were starts.
The Michigan State product joins a crowded quarterback cast that also currently contains Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Brian Hoyer and second-year pro Ryan Lindley.
Powers is also an ex-Colt, having played all four of his previous NFL seasons with Indianapolis and starting all 42 games in which he participated in over that span. The 25-year-old owns six career interceptions and registered 40 tackles along with one pick and eight passes defensed before landing on injured reserve with a toe problem after eight games last season.
Bell is an experienced veteran who's started 79 games over the past five years and amassed four consecutive seasons of 100-plus tackles with Miami from 2008-11. The nine-year pro was a member of the New York Jets last year and finished with 89 stops and one sack while starting all 16 contests.
He'll be the likely replacement for Rhodes, cut loose by the Cardinals despite a productive 2012 campaign in which he delivered four interceptions, 11 passes defensed, one sack and 67 tackles in 15 starts.
Alexander was the NFC's special-teams representative in last year's Pro Bowl and was credited with a team-best 31 stops on returns with Washington in 2012. The versatile veteran also contributed 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a reserve linebacker last year.