Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Byrd, Wood sign deals with Bills
ESPN.com news services
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- It's two more draft picks signed and a big one to go for the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills made a splash on Wednesday by signing first-round draft pick Eric Wood and second-rounder Jairus Byrd, leaving the team with only its top selection, No. 11 pick Aaron Maybin, still unsigned.
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The Bills had nothing to lose aside from nine more football games and some cash so they took a flyer on linebacker Shawne Merriman, ESPN.com's Tim Graham writes. Blog
Byrd agreed to a four-year deal worth more than $4.2 million that included $2.4 million in guarantees, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton. Wood reached the five-year contract he agreed to on Tuesday night, according to a source.
Wood, selected 28th overall out of Louisville, is being counted on to start at right guard on a completely retooled line that's expected to feature two rookie starters and no players returning at the same position.
Byrd, a safety, was drafted 42nd overall out of Oregon but will have to wait before he can begin practicing. Immediately after signing a four-year contract, Byrd was placed on the active/non-football-injury list.
Byrd is recuperating from surgery to repair a sports hernia, a person familiar with his condition told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Bills did not release that information.
That's a considerable setback for the Bills, who were hoping Byrd could immediately compete for a starting job at free safety.
Both players arrived at the Bills training camp site in suburban Rochester and are expected to join the team for its scheduled walkthrough on Thursday morning. Wood is expected to practice Thursday evening.
"It's been a busy 24 hours," general manager Russ Brandon said earlier in the day, when announcing the team was close to signing both players.
Byrd had plenty of catching up to do. Aside from missing seven practices over the first five days of training camp, he also missed the team's spring minicamps because of Oregon's late exam schedule. Byrd did take part in a three-day rookie minicamp in early May, and visited with Bills coaches in early July to go over the playbook.
Wood started 49 straight games in college at center and was a Big East Conference first-team selection last season.
The Bills intend to convert Wood into a guard, and are counting on him to take over for Brad Butler, who's being shifted to right tackle. Langston Walker is switching to left tackle, after two-time Pro Bowl center Jason Peters was traded to Philadelphia. The Bills signed Geoff Hangartner in free agency to take over at center, while rookie second-round pick Andy Levitre is competing to start at left guard.
The Bills can now turn their attention to Maybin, a defensive end out of Penn State.
Though there's been no update on the progress of contract talks, Maybin has been eager to get to camp. He's been texting teammates and Bills coaches, informing them how much he wants to start practicing. The player has also been regularly posting comments on Twitter with updates of him working out and his contract talks.
Earlier this week, he tweeted a response to Whitner, which read: "cant wait 2 get there man...im killin it out here but i need 2 be out there with yall as soon as possible."
Maybin's agent, Chafie Fields, has declined to discuss the status of talks.
A major snag is the slow pace of teams signing first-round picks around the NFL. As of Wednesday morning, only five of the 32 first-rounders have signed or agreed to contracts, which makes it difficult to establish Maybin's value.
In separate moves, the Bills placed receiver P.K. Sam on waived/injured a day after he hurt his quadriceps, and signed free agent receiver Shaine Smith.
Listed at 6-feet-2 and 189 pounds, Smith has yet to play in the NFL, but spent part of the 2007 season on the New York Jets' practice squad. He was originally signed by St. Louis that year as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Hofstra.
The Bills' depth at receiver is depleted. Steve Johnson (rib cartilage) is out indefinitely. Receivers James Hardy and C.J. Hawthorne have been unable to practice since opening camp and are on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list.
Information from ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.