By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, didn’t get a wink of sleep Saturday night while the Browns hammered out his first NFL contract with agent Jeff Guerriero.
Mingo’s deal was finalized sometime between 2-3 a.m. Sunday, the Browns released the news at 7:31 a.m. and their top draft pick joined his fellow rookies on the practice field hours later despite running on fumes.
The Browns signed Mingo to a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option, the team announced. The deal is worth more than $16 million, a league source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal.
Mingo received a bit more money than the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne. Mingo’s former teammate at Louisiana State University, Claiborne signed a four-year deal that totaled $16.26 million and included a $10.3 million signing bonus.
Browns CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi achieved their goal of ensuring the contract contains offset language, the source said, which was the sticking point that held up the deal and kept Mingo from reporting to training camp with the rest of the team’s rookies on Friday. But in turn, Mingo will receive his entire signing bonus before the end of this year, the source said.
The offset language would keep the Browns from paying Mingo the full remainder of his salary in the unlikely event he is cut before the expiration of his rookie deal and signs with another team.
Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan, the third overall pick, and Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson, the fourth overall selection, reportedly signed contracts with offset language Saturday, paving the way for the completion of Mingo’s deal. Like Mingo, Jordan and Johnson will receive their signing bonuses early.
Mingo is scheduled to address the media today.
The Browns now have all five of their picks from this year’s draft under contract. Cornerback Leon McFadden (San Diego State, third round), free safety Jamoris Slaughter (Notre Dame, sixth round), defensive end Armonty Bryant (East Central, seventh round) and guard Garrett Gilkey (Chadron State, seventh round) have also signed their rookie deals.
Mingo missed some on-field work Saturday when the other rookies practiced for the first time during training camp. The Browns, though, won’t hold their first full-squad practice of training camp until Thursday, so he avoided being absent for anything of much significance.
The 6-foot-4 Mingo, who planned to report to camp weighing about 240 pounds, told the Beacon Journal last month that he didn’t expect to miss any practice time because of his contract situation.
“I’m ready,” said Mingo, who had 15 sacks in three seasons at LSU. “This is what we’ve been training for since January, really, since we got done with the bowl season. I’m just ready to play football again. There’s a love that I have for the game. I like playing. I like being physical. I like being in the games. I just can’t wait to be out there.”
Mingo played defensive end in college, but the Browns moved him to outside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4, multifront scheme. He worked primarily at right outside linebacker with the second-team defense this spring during organized team activities and minicamps.
Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard are penciled in as the starting left and right outside linebackers, respectively. Mingo, though, hopes to eventually surpass them.
“I want to be a starter,” Mingo said. “I can’t control that. That’s a decision up to the coaches. They’re going to play the best players, and my job is to be the best player.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.