Seahawks Top Pick Signs

SportsFootballContractsSeattle SeahawksNFLMatthew StaffordWalter Jones

The Seattle Seahawks have signedfirst-round draft choice Aaron Curry to a contract that willguarantee the star linebacker from Wake Forest $34 million, aperson familiar with the deal said Saturday night.

The contract is the richest for a rookie non-quarterback in NFLhistory and has a maximum value of $60 million. The person spoke oncondition of anonymity because the Seahawks haven't announced theagreement's financial terms.

Curry, the No. 4 pick overall last spring, made a surpriseappearance at Saturday's practice, sprinting onto the field almost30 minutes into the session to boisterous applause from Seahawksfans at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

"I am just as excited to be out here and just to see theemotion from the fans and get back with my team is just an amazingfeeling," he said.

Coach Jim Mora said Curry has a steep learning curve aftermissing 12 practices over eight days of training camp. That wasevident the moment the Seahawks thrust Curry into one-on-onedrills, without the linebacker having done so much as stretch orwarmup.

On his first play, Curry was matched up against tight endCameron Morrah, and was roasted on a square-in route. One fansarcastically yelled out, "Welcome to the NFL."

Curry spent the afternoon practicing with the No. 2 defense, butMora made it clear that he'll start at strong-side linebacker.

"He wasn't in there with the first group just because he's gotso much catching up to do," Mora said. "I don't know at whatpoint we'll make the switch and he'll start running out there withthe first defense, but I think it will be pretty soon."

Although he worked out and studied his playbook in nearbyBellevue during the holdout, Curry said he grew anxious andeventually told his agents to speed up the contract negotiations.

Fellow rookie Deon Butler filled Curry in on practice mattersduring the holdout, and veteran linebacker Lofa Tatupu alsovisited, giving him a mini-walkthrough of what the defense wasworking on. But Tatupu believed Curry would acclimate himselfquickly.

"Linebacker, it's not like it's rocket science," Tatupu saidwith a laugh. "Just hit the man with the ball."

Mora credited general manager Tim Ruskell for working the phoneswith Curry's representatives late into Friday night.

"This is probably the longest contract we'll ever do, in termsof pages and volume and little nuances to the deal," Ruskell said.

Only top overall pick Matthew Stafford, the quarterback draftedby Detroit, has received a richer guarantee - $41.7 million - fromthis year's draft.

NOTES: Mora felt like the Seahawks "dodged a bullet" with theinjury to Chris Spencer. The center was carted off the field Fridaywith an ankle injury, but was walking around Saturday...WalterJones also did not practice because of a back injury, and Mora saidthe tackle would not play in the team's first preseason game onAug. 22. The coach was optimistic that Jones would be involved inpractice soon...Also not practicing was CB Marcus Trufant (back),DL Cory Redding (soreness), DE Michael Bennett (knee) and OG GreyRuegamer (elbow)...To make room on the roster for Curry, theSeahawks waived WR Billy McMullen.

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