Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff spent Tuesday meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears as he began the process of determining where to resume his NFL career, league sources said.
It is likely that Ratliff will meet with at least one more interested team before making his decision, assuming there are multiple offers.
Both the Chiefs and Bears evaluated Ratliff's physical condition and, based on their medical and training staffs, believe he is capable of playing within the next month and perhaps sooner, the sources said. A reasonable view is that he could be on the field in early December and through the playoffs.
The Cowboys released Ratliff following a dispute about his recovery from a groin injury for which he underwent surgery in December, even though owner/general manager Jerry Jones paid him $18 million in guarantees less than two years ago. Ratliff has not played in nearly a year.
Ratliff faces charges of driving while intoxicated stemming from an arrest earlier this year, six weeks after then-Cowboys backup Josh Brent's crash, which killed teammate Jerry Brown Jr. Ratliff's trial has been postponed until February.
Ratliff, who was seeing his own doctor and following rehab protocol outside the team, was released after the Cowboys were told he would not be healthy enough to play for at least three months.
The next week, Ratliff kept an appointment with Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia, who had performed his sports hernia surgery. Meyers cleared Ratliff medically, and his agent immediately informed the league's other 31 teams of Ratliff's updated status and availability.
One Cowboys source said at the time that Ratliff "decided he didn't want to play for Jerry Jones anymore."
Last week, Jones referred to the Ratliff issue as a "legal matter."
"All agreements require people to abide by the agreements. That's why you have legal issues," Jones said. "We obviously have an agreement with him, had an agreement with him, and to the extent that you have some concern within that, that's why you have legal."
The Cowboys rank last in the NFL in total defense and in just eight games have allowed four quarterbacks to pass for at least 400 yards, matching the league record for a season.
The primary issue has been injuries on the defensive line, where Ratliff could have contributed. Anthony Spencer played one game before going on injured reserve, and DeMarcus Ware has missed games for the first time in his career because of a quadriceps strain, leaving Jason Hatcher as the only projected starter on the line still playing.
ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins contributed to this report.