LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) – Running back Cedric Benson ended his 36-day holdout Sunday night, agreeing to a five-year contract with the Chicago Bears.

Benson, the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, was the last remaining first-round pick to sign. Terms were not available but reports said the Bears had offered a contract that contained $17 million in guaranteed money to the former Texas star.

The announcement of Benson’s agreeing to terms came on the same day the Bears promoted another rookie, fourth-round pick Kyle Orton, to be the starting quarterback.

Earlier this month, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said the team had made its final offer to Benson and that future negotiations would be centered on how much Benson’s value had been reduced by the holdout.

Benson paid a surprise visit to the Bears training facility on Thursday and talked with Angelo, although it was not a negotiating session and his agent, Eugene Parker, was not present.

“We are happy this process has reached a conclusion and look forward to moving ahead together,” Angelo said in a statement Sunday night.

Benson was a four-year starter at Texas and finished his career as the sixth-leading rusher in NCAA Division I-A history and the second-leading rusher in Longhorns history. In 49 games, he rushed for 5,540 yards on 1,112 carries with 64 TDs and caught 69 passes for 621 yards and three TDs.

Benson was just the fifth back in NCAA history to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons. His 64 TDs were the third-most in NCAA history.

He was expected to challenge incumbent Thomas Jones for playing time. The Bears have one preseason game remainining Thursday before starting the regular season in Washington on Sept. 11.

AP-ES-08-28-05 2137EDT


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