July 24, 2007

Class Is In: Meachem Inks Rookie Deal Before Camp

New five year contract for top pick wraps up 2007 draft class under contract

The new five-year contract for first round pick Robert Meachem wraps up a remarkable, trend-setting offseason for the Saints. Never under Mickey Loomis, or in this century, has the Saints' draft class reported to training camp on time.

Players report Wednesday for a training camp that will include Meachem competing in the toughest positional depth chart on the team, and getting into camp on time means that Meachem won't lose ground by sitting out without a contract.

The five year contract, one less than the maximum allowed six, has a potential value of $11.3 million and guaranteed money, in the forms of signing and roster bonuses, of $5.71 million. Figures first reported by ESPN.

The 27th overall pick this past April, Meachem has had a lousy first offseason. A fresh ankle injury, and the aggravation of an old collegiate knee meniscus injury in opposite legs limited him in the team's two minicamps and offseason workout programs. Surgery on the knee in early June was supposed to keep Meachem out 4-6 weeks, and he has always been expected to be ready for training camp.

With a runningback's frame but with a receiver's speed and skills, Meachem has rare tools and has been highly productive at the top collegiate level, the Southeastern Conference. Meachem missed his sophomore season with a meniscus injury in his right knee, an issue he aggravated earlier this offseason.

The Saints had the rest of their class signed by the end of June, a remarkable turnaround from previous years when the entire class would be signed in the week prior to and week after training camp starts. Before tomorrow, the last time an entire Saints class was signed and arrived on time was 1999, when Ricky Williams signed his deal in the early summer.

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