Saints sign top draft pick Meachem

NEW ORLEANS -- Wide receiver Robert Meachem, the 27th pick in the NFL draft, agreed Tuesday with the New Orleans Saints on a five-year contract.

New Orleans' deal with Meachem means the Saints managed to get all seven of their draft picks in the fold before they were due to report to training camp in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday.

"It has been a priority for us to get all of our picks signed and have them available from day one," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Robert has worked hard since he joined our team and we expect more of that to come in training camp and beyond."

The team policy is to not disclose financial terms, but a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press the total value of the contract exceeded $11 million with a signing bonus of more than $5.7 million. The person requested anonymity because the contract had not been signed.

The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Meachem is expected to compete for a starting job that opened up when the Saints released veteran Joe Horn, who has since signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Meachem left after his junior season at Tennessee, when he caught 71 passes for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns. He previously played at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Okla.

However, he has struggled through his initial offseason work with the Saints, showing up out of shape, then spraining an ankle in rookie camp. When he returned for minicamp in June, his right knee, on which he had surgery in 2003, began to swell.

Meachem has since had an arthroscopic procedure to clean out some loose cartilage and repair his medial meniscus. He was not expected to miss any training camp practices, which begin on Friday after the team reports Wednesday and holds meetings on Thursday.

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