Armed with a new contract and a new hairdo, Aaron Maybin got down to the business of football now that the business of money is behind him.
The team's top draft pick, selected No. 11 overall last April, signed a five-year deal worth $25 million on Friday, ending the longest holdout in team history — 27 days — in the salary cap era which began in 1993.
Maybin, a defensive end whom the Bills also plan on using as a rushing linebacker at times, recorded 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss last season for Penn State in his only season as a starter. The Bills desperately need him to help their pass rush which ranked 26th in sacks last season.
"Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Whatever you want to call it ... that's me," said Maybin, when asked to describe how he was feeling after signing a deal worth $15 million in guarantees.
"I've been smiling from ear to ear for the entire day. Ever since I got off the plane it's just been great to be able to get back up here. It's been great to be able to spend some time with my teammates."
Those teammates had been practicing in the hot sun since July 25 and had already played two preseason games. They left for their third, at Green Bay, without Maybin, who remained in Buffalo to get ready to hit the practice field on Monday.
With three weeks and two preseason games still left on Buffalo's schedule, he and the coaching staff are hopeful Maybin can get in game shape and up to speed to be a contributor when the regular-season kicks off Sept. 14 at New England.
"Obviously you miss a lot," Maybin said. "There's a lot of catching up that I have to do, but we still have three weeks to go, three weeks of preparation, three weeks that I have to make do of and to really do the best that I can with. I'm really excited about getting back out there, getting back on the field working with my coaching staff and my teammates again and I think I'll be fine."
Maybin, a rare 6-4, 250-pound package of speed and muscle, does play a position where he can simply use his athleticism to chase after the quarterback. In that regard, the Bills can plug him into situations and see what happens. But over the long haul, they plan to incorporate him into a complex package of disguised blitzes. The team needs more playmakers and it hopes Maybin fits that bill.
The sides were at a stalemate but talks heated up as the week progressed and it became clear that waiting for San Francisco to sign receiver Michael Crabtree, the 10th overall pick, would be foolish for both parties.
The Bills and agent Joel Segal had good parameters to work with in No. 9 pick B.J. Raji (five years, $28.5 million, $18 M guaranteed) of Green Bay and No. 12 Knowshon Moreno (five years, $23 million, $13 M guaranteed) of Denver. As expected, Maybin's money slots right in between. Makes everyone wonder what exactly did take so long?
"It's pretty easy to try to finger point and do all that kind of stuff, but truthfully, the past is the past," Maybin said. "I'm here, I'm ready to play football and I'm ready to get things going with this preseason and have a great preseason and let them momentum carry me into the season."
So what's with the hairdo?Maybin had his number "58" and "78" shaved into one side of his head and a charging buffalo team logo in the other side.
"I've got two numbers," he said. "I did carve my number in there but also in respect to Bruce Smith being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, I figured I'd show him some love in the haircut as well."
Check out the BFR's feature on Maybin here.
And a premium Q & A with the rookie here.