Cason signs with Chargers for $12M over 5 years

SAN DIEGO (AP) -Chargers first-round draft pick Antoine Cason signed a five-year contract worth slightly more than $12 million Thursday night, assuring he will be in camp when the team holds its first full-squad practice.

Cason was the team's final draft pick to agree to terms. He missed three days of rookie camp while the two sides finalized a deal that includes a signing bonus of roughly $6 million.

"It's time to play football. I'm just getting ready to go play," Cason said after signing the deal.

"The Chargers were great to work with and Antoine is excited to get going," said his agent, Ron Slavin.

"It's a big relief," said Cason, who will be on the field Friday morning when the Chargers hold their first full-squad practice. "Of course I was concerned but I had faith that it would get done. All I could do was work out and control the things I was able to control and that was that. I didn't worry about it too much because I knew it would get done, so I did the things I could control."

Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Cason will compete for the nickel back spot.

"I definitely think I did have a good offseason and worked hard to put myself in a position to be here," Cason said. "I just want to get out there and play well and do the things I know I am capable of doing and also learn this game a little bit more. I'm new and just want to get in and learn."

As a senior at Arizona, Cason won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. He intercepted five passes and returned two punts for touchdowns last season.

Cason spoke with his father, Wendell, soon after the contract was finalized. The elder Cason spent three years with the Atlanta Falcons.

"He told me congratulations and we talked a little bit," the younger Cason said. "But we've been talking about football all summer. It doesn't matter what I call about, it always comes back to football."

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