IRVING, Texas – Jay Ratliff is no longer a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The team ended the year-long suspense for the defensive tackle on Wednesday, by officially terminating the contract of Ratliff, placing him on the failed physical list from Reserve/PUP (Physically Unable to Perform).
Ratliff's agent Mark Slough held a conference call with the media on Wednesday afternoon, and tried to clear up some of the confusion that has surrounded this situation. However, some of Slough's comments seemed to create more uncertainty regarding Ratliff and his injury issues, which were originally diagnosed last December as a sports hernia injury.
Slough basically told reporters that Ratliff never had a sports hernia injury, rather he was dealing with a pelvic injury that doctors told them would likely take at least a year to recover from.
"This was not a sports hernia injury. It was never a sports hernia injury," Slough said. "Somehow, someway it became characterized that way. Once it became labeled a sports hernia, there became an expectation for his return – a timetable for his return based on the way other people have returned from that. That's created a lot of mystery and supposition publicly. But it wasn't a sports hernia. This was a very serious injury – muscle was ripped off the (pelvic) bone in two places. Tendons attached to the pelvis from inside the leg, from the abdomen at the top of the pelvis, were both ripped apart. It was a very vicious injury and takes a long time to heal. The expectation from the beginning was that it would take about a year."
However, the Cowboys had no official comment Wednesday evening.
In fact, the only injury the team reported from training camp was a hamstring strain that occurred during the conditioning test on the first day of camp. It was a test Slough said Ratliff "probably shouldn't have" taken, considering the injury he was still recovering from.
Despite the differences, Slough said Ratliff has "no ill will" about the decision to release him.
"He's not upset. He's not mad. He's not angry," Slough said of Ratliff. "He understands the business side of this."
Slough also relayed a statement from Ratliff:
"First, let me say thank you to the Dallas Cowboys and Jerry Jones for taking a chance on me in 2005. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Cowboys, and it was always my desire to begin and end my career here in Dallas. But I understand this business, and now it's time to move on, turn the page and begin again. To all my teammates, I want to wish them nothing but the best. Stay strong, keep fighting and always believe. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you, but I will always support you and value our time together. And lastly, to all the Cowboy fans, I want to say it was an honor to play for you. Cowboy fans are the best fans in the NFL, and I thank each and every one of you for the support and love you have shown to me these past nine years. I will miss you."
After missing all of training camp practices and the five preseason games, Ratliff was eventually placed on PUP. He was eligible to come off PUP this week, and while Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have stayed mum on the situation, the decision was made Wednesday afternoon to cut ties with eight-year veteran.
Ratliff made four straight Pro Bowls from 2008-11 and thrived in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme as a nose tackle. He played two years under Rob Ryan, including last year when he only played six games. Ratliff had just 25 tackles and no sacks in 2012.
In 2011, Ratliff signed a five-year extension worth about $40 million, including more than $18 million in guaranteed money. By cutting him now, Ratliff's contract saves the team about $625,000 off the cap this year, but will count $6.9 million in dead money in 2014. Then again, if Ratliff was on the roster, his cap charge for 2014 was expected to be $8.24 million, including a base salary of $5.5 million.
As for Ratliff, his agent said the defensive tackle isn't done playing.
"He absolutely 100 percent wants to play football again," said Slough, who said he's already received a few calls from NFL teams acquiring about Ratliff. "He has a passion for the game. He has a love for the game. If he could've played this year, he would've been on the field. He has absolute no intention of not playing again in 2014."