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Saints' top draft pick comes to terms

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, the New Orleans Saints' top draft pick last spring, ended his holdout Tuesday.

Ellis, picked seventh overall out of Southern California, agreed to a five-year contract, said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis.

"It's about time," said Loomis, who did not disclose financial details because of team policies. "It took a little longer than it should have."

Loomis said the delays were caused not so much by the total value of the contract, but how it was structured with incentive bonuses, guarantees and annual base pay. Also complicating matters are concerns about the likely expiration of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement after the 2010 season.

"It's had an effect on the way these deals are structured, there's no question about it," Loomis said.

Ellis, an All-America selection and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, is expected to compete for a starting role immediately.

In 13 games last season for USC, Ellis had 58 tackles, 12 1/2 tackles for losses and 8 1/2 sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and was credited with batting down seven passes.

Coaches said Ellis impressed them in rookie camp and minicamp. However, he's missed the first 12 practices of training camp.

Loomis said Ellis is expected to arrive Wednesday in time to sign his new contract and practice in the afternoon. That will give him three days of practice before the Saints' first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. The Saints' first preseason game is Aug. 7 at Arizona.

"We'll see what kind of shape he's in," Loomis said. "He's got some catching up to do."

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