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Browns ink rookie linebacker Thompson to five-year contract

BEREA - Rookie linebacker Chaun Thompson agreed to a five-year contract and ended his holdout Wednesday night after the Cleveland Browns warned the second-round pick they might reduce the amount of his deal.

Thompson, from tiny West Texas A&M, is expected to practice Thursday, a team spokesman said.

Earlier, Browns president Carmen Policy made it clear that the team wasn't pleased that the No. 52 overall pick wasn't in camp. Policy said if Thompson didn't sign before Thursday, the Browns would lessen his their offer.

''This is not a threat or an ultimatum, but it's just an evaluation of the situation as we see it,'' Policy said.

''We've indicated to Chaun's agents that the danger point is quickly coming upon us, that if things are delayed beyond tomorrow, we're crossing the line of no return.''

Policy's tone changed after the Browns reached a deal with Thompson's agent, Jeffrey Griffin.

''We are delighted the young man has joined and he's ready to become a member of the Cleveland Browns family,'' Policy said.

Griffin could not be reached for comment.

The Browns still have four draft choices who haven't signed with the club.

Cleveland has been asking its low-round picks to accept five-year contracts as a way of creating salary stability. Agents for most of the rookies have been reluctant to have their players sign the long-term deals.

Typically, low-round picks sign for three years, after which they are eligible for free agency.

The Browns will scrimmage the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, and Policy said the unsigned draft choices need to be with the team by then.

''We're really running out of time - not patience, but time,'' Policy said.

Counting Wednesday's two practices, Thompson missed nine days and 13 practices since workouts for rookies began on July 22.

The other draft choices yet to sign are cornerbacks Chris Crocker and Michael Lehan, running back Lee Suggs and defensive tackle Antonio Garay.

The Browns' choice of Thompson with the 52nd overall pick was one of the draft's biggest surprises because West Texas A&M is an NCAA Division II school and went 0-11 last season.

Shortly after the draft, Thompson said he'd play for free.