Bengals, first-round pick CB Joseph reach deal

Updated: July 30, 2006, 1:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Cincinnati Bengals have reached a contract agreement with first-round draft choice Johnathan Joseph, a cornerback from South Carolina who will vie for the team's starting nickel spot.

The agreement, which came late Friday night, will be signed on Saturday, well in advance of a nighttime session that marks the opening practice of training camp at Georgetown (Ky.) College. The deal, which was negotiated by agent Jason Chayut of Sportstars, is for five years. While the financial details were not immediately available, it will likely be worth about $8.1 million to $8.3 million.

Despite appearing in only 14 games at the major college level, Joseph was one of the fastest rising players in the weeks preceding this year's draft, and the Bengals, with an eye toward the future at cornerback, took him with the 24th overall selection.

Joseph, 22, was very impressive in spring minicamps, where he flashed natural playmaking and coverage skills. He probably won't challenge the veteran incumbents, Tory James and Deltha O'Neal, but might push one of them later in the season.

He started his career at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, and was one of the top junior college cornerbacks in the country in 2003 before transferring to South Carolina in 2004. A broken right foot limited Joseph to just two appearances in his first season with the Gamecocks. He bounced back in 2005 to start in 10 of 12 appearances, and finished with 55 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes defensed.

Joseph's stock began to skyrocket when he posted a 4.31-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine workouts. He also excelled in his campus auditions.

Blessed with a solid frame (5-feet-11, 193 pounds) and long arms, Joseph has great physical tools, but his lack of playing time at the college level means he will have to work on recognition skills. He is a fluid athlete, who breaks smoothly out of his backpedal and has good burst to the ball.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Colts wrap up RB Addai
The Indianapolis Colts reached an agreement in principle Saturday night with first-round draft choice Joseph Addai in time for him for the starting of training camp.

Addai agreed to a five-year, $7.5 million contract that could be worth as much as $11.165 million if he hits all his bonuses. Included in the deal is $4.76 million in guarantees.

The final negotiation enabled Addai, the 30th pick in the first round, to be paid a little higher than the 30th slot in the first round.

"It allows him to come in from Day 1 and provide the most value to the team," Addai's agent Ian Greengross told the Associated Press.

Getting Addai in camp in time was important because the Colts are trying to replace Edgerrin James, who went to Arizona in the offseason.

Addai will sign the contract Sunday morning.

-- John Clayton

Lions sign Bullocks
The Detroit Lions signed second-round draft pick Daniel Bullocks on Saturday to a four-year deal.

The 6-foot, 212-pound safety from Nebraska was selected with the 40th pick in this year's draft. He finished his college career with 226 tackles, ranking second in Nebraska's defensive backfield history.

Bullocks and fellow rookie Ernie Sims missed the first practices of training camp Friday because they hadn't signed contracts. The Lions drafted Sims, a linebacker from Florida State, in the first round. He remained unsigned.

-- The Associated Press

Browns rookie Wilson ends holdout
BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie wide receiver Travis Wilson, the only Cleveland draft pick not in training camp, ended his three-day holdout by signing a four-year contract with the Browns on Saturday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Wilson, a third-round selection from Oklahoma, caught 105 passes for 1,315 yards and 17 touchdowns in 42 games for the Sooners. On draft day, Wilson proclaimed himself the best wide receiver in the 2006 class.

With wide receiver Braylon Edwards recovering from knee surgery, Wilson has a chance to earn some playing time. Coach Romeo Crennel warned that a long holdout would have hurt Wilson and dropped him on the depth chart.

To make room on their roster, the Browns released receiver Steve Sanders.

--The Associated Press