Cornerback Aaron Ross spent five of his first six seasons in the National Football League with the New York Giants before parlaying his most productive season in the NFL (four interceptions, 12 passes defensed) into a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ross started nine of 14 games with the Jaguars, recording 46 tackles, three passes defensed and zero interceptions while playing in less than 60 percent of the defensive snaps for a Jaguars team that would finish the season with a 2-14 record. The Jaguars released Ross after the season and the veteran is back with the Giants, who signed the 2007 first-round pick out of Texas to a one-year, "minimum salary benefit" deal worth $780,000, of which just his $65,000 signing bonus is guaranteed.
While Ross says that he doesn't regret signing with the Jaguars last offseason, he's glad to be back in New York and jokingly referred to his stint in Jacksonville as a "paid vacation".
"It was a nice paid vacation to Florida," Ross said of his season in Jacksonville during a Friday morning appearance on "NFL AM" on the NFL Network (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com).
While Ross and Co. laughed about the situation, there were likely few chuckles emanating from Jaguars headquarters. The Jaguars paid Ross over $2.6 million last season and treated the newcomer like family, giving him a few days off during training camp so he could travel to London to watch his wife, sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross, win a gold medal in the Olympics.
Ross, whose five-year rookie contract had a maximum value of $13.5 million, admitted that signing with the Jaguars was motivated by finances.
"I had to think about the family, setting us up long-term, so of course the money comes to mind," Ross said. "But winning is everything, man. It takes the joy away when you're losing, and the only thing to get you through it is the paycheck when you're losing."
Ross subsequently apologized for the comments, later realizing that they didn't go over too well.
"The only reason I said the vacation thing is because it was such a short turnaround for me to [come] back home with the Giants, it felt like [being away on] a vacation," Ross told ESPN New York. "I definitely didn’t mean any harm to Jacksonviile city or the fans or disrespect to the organization. I have the utmost respect for that organization ... They accepted me and my wife with open arms and they were a fun crowd to be around and the organization was first class and treated us really nice."
It could be argued that Ross played as if he were on leave in 2012 -- he was Pro Football Focus' 89th-ranked cornerback last season.
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