It took an extra 10 days and 12 missed practices but LB Keith Rivers is now a full-fledge member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals and their top draft choice agreed to a 5-year contract late Tuesday night. Terms of the deal were not announced but Rivers arrived at Georgetown College just after 9 p.m. to formalize the agreement. He will be on the field for practice at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
It was the longest holdout for a Bengals No. 1 pick since David Pollack missed all of training camp in 2005. Rivers is expected to start at the Will LB spot. Brandon Johnson has had an impressive training camp so far but Rivers was drafted with the ninth overall pick to be a foundation of new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's scheme.
"I'm glad to be here with the other guys, to be officially a part of the team," Rivers said in a statement released by the club. "Everything has gone great for me with the Bengals so far – draft, OTAs, minicamp – and I'm ready to pick up where I left off. I want to catch up quick on what I missed and move forward as fast as I can."
Rivers played in a similar defense in college at the University of Southern California where he helped the Trojans amass a 47-5 record and win one BCS national championship.
"We are excited to have Keith with us," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "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. Right from the start, through the draft and minicamps, he has shown us things that are innate to successful NFL linebackers."