For three of the top 11 players taken in the 2009 draft, last week was a bad, bad week.
The Bills cut Aaron Maybin (No. 11), who received a curious hero’s welcome in New York after clearing waivers. Also, the Bengals opted not to pick up the option on tackle Andre Smith, reducing his rookie contract from six years to four. The Bengals avoided a $4.75 million option bonus. (Curiously, the contract didn’t have the standard “non-exercise fee,” which would have forced the Bengals to cut or trade Smith in order to avoid the payment.)
Then there Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. The fourth overall pick in 2009, a league source tells us that Curry recently agreed to a new deal that cuts his rookie contract from six years to four. It will make Curry an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season.
In return for early freedom, Curry gave up $5 million in guaranteed money that he’s due to earn in 2012. It suggests that 2011 will be a make-or-break season for Curry.
All in all, the first 11 players taken in 2009 have had more misses than hits. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (No. 1 overall) has shown real potential, but he has had too many injuries. Rams tackle Jason Smith, the second pick and presumably the new Orlando Pace, was bumped last year to the right side in 2010. Chiefs defensive lineman Tyson Jackson has been unspectacular at No. 3 — but in light of the other guys taken around him, we now understand why G.M. Scott Pioli said in April that he’d take Tyson Jackson in that spot all over again.
Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey has been a disappointment at No. 7, and 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree hasn’t come close to living up to his potential at No. 10.