"Deshea will bring an energy and excitement to our defensive backfield and entire team," Mullen said. "His experience in the National Football League is valuable, and his roots in Mississippi made him an obvious choice for our program."
Townsend, a native of Batesville, Miss., is a 13-year NFL veteran who played with the Indianapolis Colts (2010) and Pittsburgh Steelers (1998-2009) during his playing career. Townsend worked with the Cardinals' cornerbacks and nickel backs for the last two years.
"It's great to be heading home again," Townsend said. "Coach Mullen and his staff have built a solid program and I'm excited to join the team and hit the ground running."
During his playing career, Townsend appeared in 191 career games (80 starts) and collected 428 tackles (359 solos), 21 interceptions, 15.5 sacks, three touchdowns, five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles. He also played in 14 postseason games (seven starts) with Pittsburgh and had 42 tackles, two interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble.
Townsend won two Super Bowl rings as a player with the Steelers at Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII, and his position coach at the time was current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Townsend had his best season with Pittsburgh in 2004 when he started 15 games and had 59 tackles, four interceptions and four sacks.
He was a four-year starter (1994-97) at Alabama and earned first-team All-SEC honors following his junior season in 1996. He entered the NFL with the Steelers as a fourth-round pick (117th overall) in the 1998 NFL Draft.
Born in Batesville, Miss., Townsend played both offense and defense at South Panola High School and accounted for 1,800 yards of offense and 18 touchdowns as a senior while leading the school to the 5A state championship game in 1992.