DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) – The people I talked to today about the Jay Ratliff situation believe the Cowboys and Defensive Tackle Jay Ratliff are going to lawyer up and hash this thing out through either the courts, arbitration or some other litigation.
When that is over we may very well have a legal opinion and settlement that defines who was in the right, who was in the wrong, and to what extent. But this is what I believe is the real reason things went crazy.
One of the things that makes the NFL great is that players are constantly working to keep their jobs and their income. The Cowboys surrendered that leverage by giving Jay Ratliff big money up-front and when he realized there was not much money relative to what he had already received to play for, the desire to play stopped.
Why did the Cowboys give him so much up front? They had to get under the salary cap to sign more players as they attempt to take advantage of the window of opportunity with a legitimate franchise Quarterback. It’s been happening for a half decade now and it’s really starting to catch up to them.
I don’t fault the strategy entirely because one Superbowl would make it worth it. I fault who they decided to give the money to!
Jay Ratliff received an original $10 million signing bonus. In February, they converted another $3.66 million in salary to a roster bonus to help the team get under the cap before the start of free agency March 1st.
His salary for 2013 became $2 million after cashing checks for a combined $13.66 million.
For young players who love playing the game and are fighting to build a career and a nest egg, maybe that $2 million is a motivational factor.
For a 32 year old with declining skills, a broken down body, who nearly got into a fist fight with the owner late in the 2012 season, and who doesn’t trust the training staff, it’s a different equation. He already received $13.66 million, plus the six weeks worth of game checks on a $2 million salary.
Jay might have stood to make another $1.3 million off the Cowboys if he had returned for the final ten games. Or he could leave the team and go get that or more from a different team with an owner he doesn’t hate and a training staff he trusts.
It’s all about the leverage. Either way, Cowboys couldn’t hurt him. That adds up to a classic “F-you money” situation.
Similar but not exactly the same as Nate Livings.
And quite different but still in the same ballpark as Anthony Spencer who’s franchise tag was worth $10.6 million whether he played or not. And he knew the Cowboys would not sign him when he hit free agency, because they are already on schedule to be $31 million over the cap in 2013.
Through a series of contract moves meant to cram the most possible amount of talent on the roster there was a giant unintended consequence. They have no carrot to hold in front of some of their players. And that stinks.
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