Memo to Jerry Jones: You don't pay age in today’s NFL. And you don’t pay players -- even good ones -- who are playing out of position.
No one would argue that Jay Ratliff has given the Cowboys more bang for their buck, since he signed a five-year, $20 million deal a few years ago.
But that doesn’t mean he deserves a new deal -- not now anyway.
First, Jerry needs to see how Ratliff fits into Rob Ryan’s new defense and whether the scheme can make him more effective since he has two years remaining on his contract.
Ratliff is a 30-year-old undersized nose tackle in a scheme that has traditionally demanded the nose tackle be a 330-pound run-stuffer who commands a double team and allows the linebackers to make tackles.
The Cowboys have tried to compensate by aligning him to take advantage of his quickness, which often compromises the integrity of the defense.
Ratliff is probably better suited to be a 4-3 defensive tackle playing on the outside shoulder of the guard, where his quickness and agility would be a significant asset.
Think Warren Sapp or La’roi Glover.
As a nose tackle, Ratliff’s body takes a beating limiting his effectiveness.
We’re talking about a player on the field for 733 plays, who did not record a tackle for loss.
Ratliff, a high-energy and high-character player, had 31 tackles last season for a unit that allowed the most points in franchise history.
The run defense starts with the nose tackle.
Former Texas star Casey Hampton, who’s listed at 325 pounds and weighs at least 40 pounds more, can’t be moved. He had only 20 tackles, but Pittsburgh allowed just 2.7 yards per carry.
At 325 pounds, the Jet’s Sione Pouha anchored a defensive line that allowed just 3.0 on carry.
Each of those teams were particularly good on first down run defense, which puts the offense into obvious passing situations.
Then, the defense has the advantage.
The Cowboys? They allowed 4.45 yards per carry and 5.24 per carry on first down.
Obviously, it’s not all Ratliff’s fault, but he certainly played a role in the Cowboys’ raggedy run defense.