Dallas Cowboys: Kyle Williams
Ratliff is signed through 2012 and is schedule to make $3.75 and $4.875 million over the next two years as part of a deal he signed in 2007. Slough has said his client is not displeased with the contract situation and that he would like to remain with the Cowboys.
Ratliff, 30, declined to talk about the contract talks last week.
The Cowboys have not extended the contracts of players with two years left on their contracts, which somewhat complicates the talks. Buffalo signed Kyle Williams (six years, $39 million) and Arizona signed Darnell Dockett (six years, $48 million) to extensions with two years left on their deals
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.
|ESPN NFL analyst Ed Werder jumps on to discuss the latest news surrounding your Dallas Cowboys.
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.
Buffalo’s Kyle Williams, who just signed a six-year, $39 million extension with $17 million guaranteed, had 10 tackles for loss last season. So did Miami’s Paul Soliai.
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.
The Cowboys owner/general manager was discussing the importance and fairness of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement during his speech at the franchise’s annual kickoff luncheon when he briefly shifted the attention to one of the biggest bargains on the roster.
"Jay Ratliff will tell you, ‘You’ve got a big issue, Jerry, with my salary. I need a little more money,’” Jones said. “We all want more money."
Ratliff, who has made three consecutive Pro Bowls since signing a five-year, $20.5 million deal during his first season as a starter, reacted with a sheepish grin and by raising his hand and eyebrows.
Jones and Ratliff were not available for comment after the luncheon, as the Cowboys rushed to the airport to fly to South Florida for the preseason finale. Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, made it clear after the comment was relayed to him that he believed his client had earned the right to renegotiate.
“I would not characterize our position as unhappy, but I would agree with the characterization that he’s outperformed the contract,” Slough said. “We’ll let all the other discussions happen behind closed doors. Jay wants to be a Cowboy for life.”
Slough declined to comment when asked if discussions were underway, although a source indicated the sides have talked about an extension. He stressed that Ratliff wasn’t bitter about his current contract – which would pay him $3.75 million in 2011 and $4.875 million in 2012 – but has accomplished his goal out outperforming the deal.
The Cowboys would have leverage in contract talks with Ratliff, who turned 30 on Monday, because there are two seasons remaining on the deal. There are, however, recent examples of defensive tackles being rewarded with rich extensions in similar circumstances.
The Bills ripped up the last two seasons of defensive tackle Kyle Williams' deal last week when he signed a six-year extension worth a maximum of $39 million with $17 million guaranteed. Williams is a 28-year-old who is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.
Arizona’s Darnell Dockett had a pair of Pro Bowl appearances on his resume and two years remaining on his contract last year when he signed an extension through 2015. Dockett, 30, got $30 million guaranteed on a $48 million deal, including $35 million in new money.
Slough declined to discuss potential numbers. Jones can joke about the subject in front of an audience of fans, media, coaches and players, but Ratliff and his agent would prefer to address the issue in private.
During the longest sackless streak since his rookie season, DeMarcus Ware predicted they'd come in bunches once he finally got one.
Ware was right. He broke a five-game drought, which dated to last season's finale, with two sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs. He followed that up with another two-sack performance against the Atlanta Falcons. Believe it or not, that marked the first time in the perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher's career that he had multi-sack outings in consecutive games.
Don't be surprised if that streak is extended Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ware had three sacks in the Thanksgiving win over the Seahawks last season, repeatedly blowing by hobbled future Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones. That was the last game Jones played before undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.
While the 35-year-old Jones continues to rehab, the Seahawks seem to hold weekly auditions at the most important position on the offensive line.
Sean Locklear replaced Jones, but he hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain in the second week of the season. Brandon Frye and Kyle Williams got turns, but Frye injured his neck and Williams' poor performance earned a ticket back to the practice squad. It appears that Damion McIntosh will start at left tackle against the Cowboys.
McIntosh signed with the Seahawks two weeks ago. He was unemployed the previous six weeks after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. So a guy who couldn't play for Kansas City, which has allowed the most sacks in the NFL, will probably be protecting Matt Hasselbeck's blind side.
The smart money is with the new $78 million man in that matchup.