PHOENIX (July 11, 2006) -- The Arizona Cardinals signed second-round draft pick Deuce Lutui, an offensive lineman out of Southern California, to a four-year contract.
The Cardinals have had their share of holdouts over the years, but Lutui said he was anxious to reach agreement with the team he cheered while growing up in nearby Mesa.
"It's something I discussed with my agent (Max Hanneman), that I wanted to play right away and make my mark on the field," Lutui said. "It's a big relief, just doing that paperwork. Now it's all field work from here, just playing ball and focusing on what we've got to do for the Arizona Cardinals."
Three of the Cardinals' top four picks remain unsigned -- quarterback Matt Leinart of USC, their first-round selection; tight end Leonard Pope of Georgia, a third-rounder; and defensive tackle Gabe Watson of Michigan, a fourth-round choice. The Cardinals report to their Flagstaff training camp July 30.
With Lutui's signing, the Cardinals have four of seven 2006 draft picks under contract. The team has also signed Louisville outside linebacker Brandon Johnson, their fifth-round pick; Virginia Tech defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis, a sixth-round selection; and BYU wide receiver Todd Watkins, taken in the seventh round.
The Cardinals chose Lutui 41st overall last spring. The 6-foot-4, 338-pounder started all 26 games he played in two years at USC. As a junior, Lutui started 13 games at right tackle for the Trojans' national championship team, and he moved to left guard last year.
Lutui, a native Arizonan who attended Mesa High School, began his college career at Mesa Community College, transferred to Snow Junior College in Utah, and then to USC in 2004.
Lutui said he senses excitement surrounding the Cardinals as they prepare to open their new Glendale stadium next month.
"Am I ready? I'm ready for football," Lutui said. "It's a great time for Arizona Cardinal football. We're trying to turn things around. We've got the new stadium."