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Chargers, McNeil Sign Contract

March 4, 2001

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ The San Diego Chargers started rebuilding their shaky secondary by signing free agent cornerback Ryan McNeil to a five-year contract on Saturday.

The deal reportedly is worth $15.5 million, including a $2.5 million signing bonus.

``It helps,″ San Diego general manager John Butler said. ``Not only is he an outstanding player on the field, he’s a class act off it.″

The Chargers added McNeil, an eight-year veteran, three days after cutting cornerbacks DeRon Jenkins and Darryll Lewis. Safety Michael Dumas was also cut.

Jenkins was a bust in his only season in San Diego. Lewis started the Chargers’ first five games.

The Chargers, 1-15 last season, allowed an NFL-high 33 touchdowns.

Butler described McNeil as ``an excellent performer at a very difficult position. Every year, he’s right up there.″

McNeil spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys. He started all 16 games at right cornerback, finishing two interceptions and 101 tackles.

McNeil was Detroit’s second-round pick in 1993 and spent four seasons with the Lions before playing two seasons in St. Louis and one in Cleveland.

He has 22 career interceptions and 589 tackles.

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