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Saints sign top pick

By By Richard Dark / EMG sports writer
July 31, 2003
NEW ORLEANS A stalemate has ended, and with it comes the largest signing bonus to ever be doled out to a New Orleans Saints player.
Johnathan Sullivan, the Saints top draft pick this year, ended a six-day holdout late Wednesday night and will report to training camp today for the team's 3 p.m. practice, league sources said.
The No. 6 overall pick, a 6-3, 313-pound defensive tackle out of Georgia, reportedly will receive a seven-year, $19 million contract. It includes a whopping $11.4 million in bonuses, eclipsing the previous team mark of 10.75, which quarterback Aaron Brooks got in his deal last fall.
At the conclusion of the team's morning practice Wednesday, Saints coach Jim Haslett alluded to the fact that the two sides were still far apart in contract negotiations, and that the interior of the defensive line would not be addressed until the end of the preseason.
"I have no idea how it's all going to shake out," he said, regarding the tackle spots. "We've got to get the young kid in here first and who knows when that will be."
Former Meridian High standout Kenny Smith and veteran free agent acquisition Henry Ford are vying for the starting right tackle position, Sullivan, whom the Saints traded their two first round picks to get on draft day, will compete with Martin Chase and Grady Jackson for the nose tackle spot.