Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Departure of Ross Brings End to an Era

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Departure of Ross Brings End to an Era

Article excerpt

An era has ended. Defensive back Kevin Ross agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons last week, cutting the last link to the NFL's top secondary of the 1980s.

It is the second time in three days the Kansas City Chiefs have lost a cornerstone of their secondary to free-agency. Cornerback Albert Lewis signed with the Raiders on Tuesday. Neither received an offer from the Chiefs.

Ross agreed to a three-year contract with the Falcons worth $4 million. He will receive a $1.5 million signing bonus and salaries of $800,000, $850,000 and $850,000. It will cost the Falcons $1.3 million against their salary cap this year.

"My emotions are pretty mixed right now, but I had no other choice to make," Ross said in a telephone interview from his home in New Jersey. "The writing has been on the wall for me for a long time.

"I was the one who tried to initiate contact for an extension last year. They knew how I felt about finishing my career in Kansas City, but it wasn't to be."

Ross said he was not surprised the Chiefs did not make him an offer, but he never anticipated that both he and Lewis would leave the Chiefs the same year.

"I think it was a personal decision not to sign me," Ross said. "But it shocked me that they let Albert go. It sort of disappointed me, too. You can't let both guys go; otherwise, you are ripping up a secondary. But I'll leave that alone. That's their problem, not mine."

Ross had narrowed his choices to three teams: Denver, the Raiders and Atlanta. Ross is penciled in as the starting free safety in Atlanta's new 4-2-5 defense. In that alignment, the Falcons will have two strong safeties. They are counting on Roger Harper to play a "safety backer" position. The Falcons previously signed Steelers cornerback D.J. Johnson.

"Ross is an aggressive guy who will be a good fit in our new scheme," Falcons Coach June Jones told The Atlanta Constitution. …

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