The Steelers have reached an agreement with their first-round pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, running back Rashard Mendenhall, the team announced today. This year is the fourth consecutive season the Steelers have signed their number one draft pick in time for the start of training camp.
According to the Post-Gazette, Mendenhall will be paid $12.56 million over five years. The deal includes a reported $6.83 million signing bonus.
The Post-Gazette is also reporting that second-round pick Limas Sweed agreed to a four-year contract.
Mendenhall (5-10, 225), who played at Illinois, signed a five-year contract with the team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mendenhall was the first running back drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 19 seasons (Tim Worley, 1989).
Mendenhall rushed for 2,539 yards (6.5 avg.) and 22 touchdowns, and he caught 59 passes for 564 yards (9.6 avg.) and five scores in three seasons with the Fighting Illini. Mendenhall became the first Illinois player drafted by the Steelers since safety Bobby Dawson was selected in the 11th round of the 1988 NFL Draft.
Named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2007, Mendenhall was a Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award semifinalist. Last year, he set school records for rushing yards (1,681) and touchdowns (17).
All Steelers are scheduled to report for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., on Sunday, July 27. The first scheduled practice is set for Monday, July 28.