The Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday morning reached agreement with first-round draft choice David Pollack, the former University of Georgia defensive end who was projected as the starting strongside linebacker before camp, but who has now been dropped to the bottom of the depth chart.
Pollack will sign a five-year contract with a base value of $10 million and a maximum worth of $13 million if he reaches escalators. The guaranteed portion of the contract is worth $7.65 million.
The deal ends a 19-day camp holdout for Pollack, the 17th overall prospect selected, during which he missed 24 practice sessions. It has been 55 days since Pollack was last on the field with the Bengals in an organized workout.
"We're excited to have this deal concluded," said Bengals head
coach Marvin Lewis. "We're excited to get started with David, for
his and our future."
The contract is expected to be officially signed on Wednesday afternoon and Pollack, who had demonstrated good feel in the transition from end to linebacker, will then embark on a crash course in an effort to get him back up to speed.
In recent days, Lewis grew frustrated by Pollack absence and was publicly critical of the rookie.
"We have other guys who have chosen to be here and we've eliminated selfishness that occurs," Lewis said. "I've said it many times. If that's what it comes down to, a dollar here a dollar there, they're on the wrong football team. This football team will never, ever be guided by one guy. We're not going to be compromised by one player or one person and that's not going to change."
Earlier this week, Lewis dropped Pollack on the depth chart and moved second-year linebacker Landon Johnson into the No. 1 strongside spot. Johnson primarily played at middle linebacker in 2004. Ironically, Pollack's former Georgia teammate, second-round pick Odell Thurman, has all but won the starting middle linebacker spot.
Pollack, 23, is one of the most celebrated defensive players in recent NCAA history and certainly in the history of Georgia football. He joined Herschel Walker in 2004 as the only two players in Bulldogs history to earn All-American honors three times. And he finished his career as the fourth-leading sacker in SEC history.
Winner of the prestigious Ted Hendricks Award and the Lombardi Award, Pollack had 283 tackles, 36 sacks and 108 quarterback pressures in 50 games, including 44 starts. He had 58½ tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, three recoveries and four interceptions.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.