Reporting Mike Fisher
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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – Jay Ratliff’s career with the Dallas Cowboys – a major success story for most of it before the last 11 months of tumult – has come to an end.
Dallas, which has been waiting for the defensive tackle to overcome physical problems since last December, on Wednesday gave up waiting and officially terminated his contract by moving him from the Reserve/PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list to the failed-physical list.
A Valley Ranch source downplayed “behavior and attitude’’ as factors in the move. And Ratliff’s agent Mark Slough insisted for the player’s part, “”There’s no ill-will. Jay is not upset. He’s not mad. He’s not angry.’’
But Ratliff’s recent conflicts with the organization are well-documented. And because of the financial ramifications – the Cowboys receive no real financial relief by making the move — Ratliff’s head-butting with the organization seem in play.
Nevertheless, Ratliff released a statement in which he praised Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Cowboys fans and his teammates, saying, “’Stay strong, keep fighting and believe. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you but I will always support you and value our time together.’’
Ratliff became an accomplished player after having been drafted in the seventh round in 2005. He was selected for four straight Pro Bowls from 2008-11 and in 2011 was rewarded with a five-year extension totaling $40 million – a dubious move, certainly in retrospect, as Ratliff was 30 at the time of the deal.
Dallas has suffered in the defensive line without him for the better part of the last two seasons, during which time he’s pocketed $18 million in guaranteed money. Late last year he underwent hernia surgery, a procedure that took place after the player and owner Jerry Jones conflicted in the Cowboys Stadium locker room regarding Ratliff’s unavailability. Ratliff was charged with a DWI last February as well, yet the Cowboys – desperate for help at his position and deeply invested in him financially – stuck with him.
Since then, however, he’s dealt a hamstring injury sustained on the first day of training camp and a groin injury. One medical source has been suggesting to 105.3 The Fan in recent weeks that Ratliff may also have a torn muscle in his hip. And indeed, Slough said the severity of this injury requires a year’s recovery and goes way beyond a sports hernia and that “tendons and muscles from the inside of his leg at the base of his pelvis had ripped off the bone.’’
Ratliff went on-record in September about being unhappy with the club’s medical-related handling of his situation. The Cowboys are privately rankled about the fact Ratliff had done much of his rehab outside of Valley Ranch.
And now, despite the fact the Cowboys save only a prorated portion of his $1.34 million base salary and will have to absorb a 2014 $6.92 million hit in the form of guaranteed bonus money, everything Jay Ratliff does in football will be outside of Valley Ranch.
Slough said teams are already calling him inquiring about Ratliff’s availability to play next season. “I can tell you that he wants to play,’’ Slough said, “and he will play. And I think he will play well.’’
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