It didn't draw nearly as much attention as his slip to the second round of last month's NFL Draft, but Manti Te'o has signed his first professional contract. The former Notre Dame football player is one of four new San Diego Chargers to ink deals with the team on Thursday.
Te'o was once projected to be at least a top-10 pick in last month's draft, but his initial subpar 40-yard dash time combined with his off-field tabloid headlines combined to drop his stock lower prior to the draft. He ultimately went with the No. 38 overall selection to San Diego. He was timed running a 4.82 at the NFL Combine, but dropped that to 4.69 at his Notre Dame Pro Day.
"The kid's a machine," NFL Network and NBC Sports analyst Mike Mayock said of Te'o. "Which is why he was so good in pass coverage, even though he doesn't have that skill set. I love this pick for San Diego. You can plug him in. It's not going to be much of a stretch for him to step into San Diego."
Te'o had a team-high seven interceptions (the rest of his teammates combined for nine) in 2012. They were the only interceptions of his career and were also the most by any linebacker in the nation last season. He worked hard to become better in pass coverage leading up to his senior season at Notre Dame and the work paid off as he turned what many thought was a liability prior to last year into a strength.
The contract reportedly includes a signing bonus of more than $2.1 million. The entire package will be worth just over $5 million - $3.1 million of which will be guaranteed.
The All-American led the Fighting Irish with 113 tackles last season. He will now report for San Diego's rookie minicamp on Friday.