- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
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The New Orleans Saints had a breakthrough Tuesday night in negotiations with first-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis that allowed them to reach agreement on a five-year deal that could max out at $49 million, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis confirmed the deal but would not reveal financial terms for the linebacker out of Southern California.
"It's about time," said Loomis. "It took a little longer than it should have."
With the seventh selection in the draft agreeing, two other first-round holdouts could end. Jacksonville defensive end Derrick Harvey, taken eighth, and Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers, the ninth pick, are the only remaining unsigned players.
According to a source, the Ellis deal could be worth as little as $32 million or $33.5 million, but if he plays up to the expectations of the seventh pick in a draft, Ellis could make $49 million. A source said the contract guarantees $19.5 million.
An All-America selection and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, Ellis had 58 tackles, 12½ tackles for losses and 8½ sacks in 13 games last season. He also was credited with breaking up seven passes.
Coaches said Ellis impressed them in rookie camp and minicamp. However, he'll have some catching up to do after missing the first 12 practices of training camp.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Ellis is expected to arrive Wednesday, when the Saints have only one practice scheduled in the late afternoon.
Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
The Saints' top pick, Sedrick Ellis, ended his holdout and signed a deal on Tuesday.