Many saw the writing on the wall when it came to Ratliff’s release from the team today. After four consecutive Pro Bowl seasons in which his production steadily declined, the 32-year old was plagued with injuries in 2012. Then, in January of this year, Ratliff was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. This just over a month after Cowboys former defensive tackle Josh Brent was also involved in a drunk driving incident that resulted in the death of Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown Jr.
Part of the hesitation to release Ratliff could have been it’s effect on the salary cap. Although the move currently saves the Cowboys close to $625,000 off the current cap, it will result in $6.9 million in dead money next year. Ouch!
Although there are still some unanswered questions, a lot of the onus appears to be on Ratliff himself. He refused to clear up the confusion about the severity of the injury himself, there-by leaving both team officials and the media to speculate on his return based off the wrong information. Ratliff refusal to talk to the media was even more evident today as he relayed everything through his agent. He even released the following “good-bye” statement through him:
“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.”
Ratliff’s agent went on to explain that his client still has a passion for the game and that he has already been contacted by various other teams. For the Cowboys, it’s simply business as usual. Their no-name defensive line seems to get stronger by the week and Ratliff’s production has already been replaced. It’s a bitter sweet end to a nice career for Ratliff in Dallas. But it is a move which both parties seem better off for.