Saints top pick reaches contract agreement

Updated: July 31, 2003, 8:52 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints didn't give their first-round draft choice a lot of time to get used to training camp.

Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan agreed to a seven-year contract Thursday morning and reported to camp later in the day.

He was thrown right into practice and looked good to coach Jim Haslett.

"Yeah, it's nice to have him in," Haslett said. "He's in good shape. We put him in there and gave him some work. I thought he did fine."

Sullivan's contract includes an $11.4 million signing bonus, agent Len Rowe confirmed.

"It's a sizable increase over the number six slot last year in terms of signing bonus," Rowe said.

The total package is worth $19 million. Sullivan can void the final two years of the contract by playing 35 percent of the defensive plays this season or 45 percent of the plays in any of the next four seasons, Rowe said.

Although negotiations had stalled over the weekend, Rowe said the talks were never contentious.

"It was always professional," Rowe said. "It was just a difference of opinion in Johnathan's market value."

The 6-foot-3 Sullivan, who played at Georgia, will compete with veterans Martin Chase and Grady Jackson for the starting nose tackle position. Knowing that made missing eight practices at training camp tough, Sullivan said.

"It's been kind of nervous waiting to get on the field," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the first practice showed that he was "behind a bit," but he said he would catch up. Haslett agreed.

"It's not like he's a wideout or a running back," Haslett said. "He's a defensive lineman. He's very intelligent, he picks things up fast. We threw him in at a position today that he didn't practice in the offseason. He did a pretty good job during the limited snaps that he was in there."

Sullivan said he spent his time watching television and working out. He still reported to camp weighing 323 pounds, 11 more than he wants to be when the season starts.

In the April draft, the Saints traded the 17th and 18th overall picks to Arizona to choose Sullivan with the No. 6 pick.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index