Rivers ends holdout with Bengals, signs 6-year deal

Updated: August 6, 2008, 12:37 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Keith Rivers

Rivers

The Cincinnati Bengals signed first-round pick Keith Rivers on Tuesday night, putting an end to the linebacker's holdout after 10 days.

Rivers, the ninth pick of the draft, arrived in camp at Georgetown, Ky., on Tuesday evening while both sides worked out the final details of the contract. Rivers' contract is a six-year deal that voids to five, but terms were not immediately available. Based on the rookie contract that Jerod Mayo signed with the Patriots as the No. 10 pick, Rivers could max out with a contract in excess of $20 million if he hits all of his performance and playing-time clauses.

His holdout caused Rivers to miss a total of 12 practices, but coach Marvin Lewis said he's confident Rivers will catch up. The Bengals had projected him as a starter for the regular season, but dropped him on the depth chart because he missed so much time.

Rivers is expected to join the Bengals for a Wednesday morning practice.

"He's behind, but we'll work to get him up to speed, and we know he's the kind of player who will get himself caught up," Lewis said. "Right from the start, through the draft and minicamps, he has shown us things that are innate to successful NFL linebackers."

The Bengals drafted Rivers to be the weakside linebacker and playmaker on defense. He has great speed and ability to get to the ball. Rivers was the ninth overall pick in the draft. The Bengals are hoping that he helps fix their problems on defense, which have dragged them down for years.

"I'm ready to pick up where I left off," Rivers said. "I want to catch up quick on what I missed and move forward as fast as I can."

The 6-foot-2, 241-pound Rivers helped lead Southern California to a 47-5 record over four seasons.

His signing leaves Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey as the only unsigned first-round pick.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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