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NDSU's Gatlin hooks on with Saints

FARGO -- Josh Gatlin's football future became clearer Tuesday.

The former North Dakota State defensive back agreed to an undrafted free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints.

"It's a big relief," said Gatlin, from Jacksonville, Fla. "The Saints showed a lot of interest in me as well as some other teams."

Gatlin was contacted by around 10 NFL teams, he said. The NFL lockout officially ended Monday, clearing the way for teams to start signing undrafted free agents on Tuesday.

Gatlin said he talked with Saints head coach Sean Payton on Tuesday.

"They see a lot of things in me," Gatlin said. "They feel I can come in and compete and possibly play my first year there. That's a big relief right there, getting a call and talking with a head coach."

Gatlin said he expects to compete for the third or fourth cornerback spot with the Saints right away.

The 6-foot, 194-pound Gatlin impressed scouts with his play at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game. He also clocked a 4.39-second, 40-yard dash on his pro day.

Gatlin led the Bison with five interceptions last fall in 13 games, making one start. He had 19 tackles.

Gatlin said he's been working out in Fargo this summer with former Bison wide receiver Gary Williams, waiting for the NFL lockout to end.

Saints camp is scheduled to start on Thursday. Gatlin said he is set to leave for camp sometime today.

"I felt like the Saints was the opportunity where I could show my talent and see the field as a rookie," Gatlin said.