Aaron Maybin wasted no time getting on the field with his new team.
The former Buffalo Bills first-round pick agreed to terms with the New York Jets on Wednesday morning, passed his physical a few hours later and signed a one-year deal — all in time to practice in the afternoon.
"I didn't have a chance to open the playbook," he said with a laugh. "But I've always been pretty good at learning as I go along. We did a little bit of that today, but I'll be knee-deep in the playbook tonight."
The once-promising linebacker was waived by Buffalo on Monday after two disappointing seasons in which he had no sacks and never made it into the starting lineup. The Jets will give Maybin the opportunity to fulfill the potential he showed when the Bills made him the 11th overall pick in 2009 out of Penn State.
"He has no clue and doesn't know a single defense, but it was like, 'Hey, just turn that corner,' and he did that pretty good," coach Rex Ryan said of Maybin jumping right into things. "That was great."
Maybin — nicknamed "Maybe" by some disappointed Bills fans — struggled to keep his weight up while with Buffalo and appeared in only 11 games last season. He was inactive for five straight games, and has been labeled one of the Bills' biggest draft busts.
"At the end of the day," he said, "I never went out to prove naysayers wrong or anything like that."
Despite the lack of production, several teams were reportedly interested in Maybin. But once the Jets made an offer and he spoke to Ryan on the phone, he knew where he wanted to go.
"I just felt comfortable and I didn't really want to play for anybody else," Maybin said. "It just felt like a great situation for me to come and get a fresh start."
"We'd settle for if he was Fred Dean," said a smiling Ryan, referring to the Hall of Famer who was a sack artist despite being just 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds.
"That would be nice," Ryan added. "I don't think that's going to happen, but he's got that body type: that long, lean body type like those great pass rushers. He can get off the football now, and I think it'll be interesting to see him in this system. I think he's got a chance."
One of the biggest challenges for the 6-4 Maybin was maintaining his weight. He entered the league listed at 250 pounds, but was down almost 25 from that when the Bills opened camp. Maybin attributed the significant drop this summer to an illness in the offseason. He said he is about 240 pounds now and wants to get up to about 255 or 256 by the time the season starts.
After Maybin had no impact in the Bills' preseason-opening 10-3 loss at Chicago, Buffalo decided to part ways with him. Coach Chan Gailey had described Maybin's status with the team as "tenuous" after last season, and said "there wasn't any appreciable improvement" after the Bills cut him.
"You can never be surprised or upset with anything that goes on," he said. "I'm not going to lie and say that you don't have a chip on your shoulder after something like that happens. But as far as the business goes, you can never be surprised, you can never really take anything too personal."
He also said the chance to play the Bills twice a season was "an added bonus," but he's just focused on improving and fitting in with the Jets and Ryan's defense.
"He wanted to put it out there from the beginning that nothing was going to be given to me and I made it known to him that I didn't want anything given to me," Maybin said. "I want to come here and I want to wear my hard hat to work every day and earn every piece of playing time and everything I get for this organization."
The move to bring in the 23-year-old Maybin is somewhat curious considering the Jets gave up on their own former first-round pick in Vernon Gholston when they cut him before the lockout. Gholston, like Maybin with the Bills, was expected to add an instant boost to the team's pass rush, but the former Ohio State star had trouble fitting into the Jets' system and failed to register a sack in three seasons after being the sixth overall pick in 2008.
Gholston has since signed with the Chicago Bears.
A switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense — something the Jets run — didn't help Maybin succeed in Buffalo. He thinks things will be different in New York.
"There is not a better scenario that you want to come into, especially a coach with that kind of defensive mentality," Maybin said. "There are a bunch of factors that I think could end up working in my favor. But at the end of the day, it just comes down to wanting to play football and wanting to win. I felt like those are going to be things that I had the opportunity to do here."