Saints, Ellis agree to five-year deal

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune July 29, 2008 7:25PM

Categories: Breaking News, Saints

JACKSON, MISS. — First-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis will join the Saints today in training camp after agreeing to a five-year contract Tuesday evening.

Saints first-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis, pictured at minicamp in May, will arrive at training camp in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday.

The deal is worth a maximum value of $49 million with $19.5 million in guarantees, according to league sources. The guaranteed money is the most important figure, since the total package includes some hard-to-reach incentives. The likely value is closer to $32 million. Performance bonuses are typical of the contracts signed by the picks ahead of Ellis.

Ellis, a defensive tackle whose holdout spanned six days and 12 practices, will fly in this morning from Tampa, Fla., where he has been working out at the Athlete’s Compound, where trained for pre-draft workouts.

He will be on the field for the Saints’ only practice today, which is scheduled for 4:20 p.m.

“It’s about time, ” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said. “It took a little longer than it should have, but it is what it is. We’re glad it’s done. We’re glad he’s in the fold. And we’ll see what kind of shape he’s in tomorrow afternoon.”

Loomis and Ellis’ agent, Eugene Parker, each declined to get into specifics of the negotiations. But they agreed that the structure of rookie deals has become more complicated in recent years — particularly now, with the possibility that NFL owners may opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, which would affect the salary cap in future years.

Ellis was one of the three first-round draft picks to agree to a contract. The remaining holdouts are No. 8 pick Derrick Harvey of the Jacksonville Jaguars and No. 9 pick Keith Rivers of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ellis was picked seventh overall out of Southern California.

“We wanted to get it done. They wanted to get it done, ” said Parker. “But you still have to go through a process, and sometimes each side wishes the other side would go down a certain path quicker than the other. But you have to stay focused until you get it done.”

Loomis said the basic parameters have been in place for the last few days.

“It’s been frustrating, just because of the length of time, and I don’t really think that was necessary, ” Loomis said. “But again, I think that’s been created by the complicated structure of deals in this era.”

Ellis could not be reached for comment, but Parker said he was excited to get in camp.

“We are happy. It’s something that we wanted to get done, ” said Parker. “Sedrick’s very mature, and he knows that this is part of it. I mean, here’s a guy that stayed for his senior year when he could have been a top-10 pick last year. So he has patience. And he knew this was necessary and it was important.

“He’s excited to get started doing what he loves to do.”

Ellis’ holdout was the longest by a Saints draft pick since receiver Devery Henderson missed seven days in 2004 and tailback Deuce McAllister missed seven days in 2001.

Loomis said he thinks the holdout will hurt Ellis, as he now tries to catch up with his teammates almost a full week into training camp. Loomis pointed to the recent hamstring injury suffered by second-round pick Tracy Porter, who also arrived two days late to camp.

Ellis won’t be totally lost, though. He participated in two minicamps and a month’s worth of organized team activities in the summer, so he’s familiar with the playbook.

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