2009 Buffalo Bills training camp has reached its second day, and while the Bills currently have four drafted rookies on the practice field, four more remain away from it as they await rookie deals. As we've discussed before, this isn't unexpected, nor is it terribly detrimental to the rookies' development - for a time. Still, the sooner these players are signed, sealed and delivered, the better.
DE Aaron Maybin, OG Eric Wood, FS Jairus Byrd and OG Andy Levitre are all officially holdouts, and once Sunday's afternoon practice concludes, each will have missed the first four practices of the season. There are a lot of factors as to why this is happening - the early camp start date being the chief reason - but that doesn't dilute from the fact that these rookies need to be on the field as soon as humanly possible. A closer examination of all four players' current situations is after the jump.
Round 1, Pick 11: DE Aaron Maybin. Only four first-round picks have signed contracts at this point, and none of them are particularly useful as Maybin's agent, Joel Segal, negotiates with the Bills. Segal is notorious for being overly patient when it comes to rookie negotiations, a fact exacerbated by the looming lengthy holdout of No. 10 overall pick WR Michael Crabtree.
Now, ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio is reporting that - as expected, considering Segal's reputation - there's not a lot of dialogue between the Bills and Maybin right now. Get comfortable, folks - this one's going to last a while.
Round 1, Pick 28: OG Eric Wood. The skies are a little brighter for Wood. Browns center Alex Mack signed his rookie contract on Saturday; playing a similar position to Wood (interior offensive line) and being drafted in the same general vicinity (No. 21 overall), the Bills have the beginnings of parameters for Wood. Now that the No. 32 overall pick, Steelers DT Evander Hood, has signed, the picture has cleared up a bit more as well. Nothing is imminent with Wood, but a deal is expected to be reached sometime this week.
Round 2, Pick 42: FS Jairus Byrd. If contract slotting means as much as it's purported to, Byrd should be the first of these four players to sign deals. Both players selected immediately before and after Byrd - Patriots CB Darius Butler and Panthers DE Everette Brown - have signed four-year deals worth roughly $4.3 million, with $2.7 million guaranteed. There's no reason this should drag on. (Hint, hint.)
Round 2, Pick 51: OG Andy Levitre. As a second-round pick, Levitre should be in camp relatively quickly as well, especially considering he's being counted on to win the starting job at left guard. Slotting parameters exist for Levitre as well; while No. 50 overall pick WR Mohamed Massaquoi remains unsigned, his Browns teammate, LB David Veikune, has inked a four-year, $3.5 million deal with $1.76 million guaranteed. Levitre's deal should be close, too. (Hint, hint.)
All in all, we expect Byrd to be signed first, followed by Levitre, Wood and Maybin. The clock is ticking; the longer these guys are away from the team, the less comfortable everyone feels relying on them as contributors this season.
Update, 2:11 PM 7/26/09 - Looks like my prediction about Byrd being the first to sign could be wrong. I'm hearing a rumor that Levitre could be on the practice field as soon as Monday.