The Seattle Seahawks have signed first-round draft choice Aaron Curry to a contract that will guarantee the star linebacker from Wake Forest $34 million, a person familiar with the deal said Saturday night.

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

Curry, the No. 4 pick overall last spring, made a surprise appearance at Saturday's practice, sprinting onto the field almost 30 minutes into the session to boisterous applause from Seahawks fans at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

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

Coach Jim Mora said Curry has a steep learning curve after missing 12 practices over eight days of training camp. That was evident the moment the Seahawks thrust Curry into one-on-one drills, without the linebacker having done so much as stretch or warmup.

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

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

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

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

Fellow rookie Deon Butler filled Curry in on practice matters during the holdout, and veteran linebacker Lofa Tatupu also visited, giving him a mini-walkthrough of what the defense was working on. But Tatupu believed Curry would acclimate himself quickly.

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

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

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

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

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