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Monday, December 10, 2012
Updated: December 11, 2:42 PM ET
Jay Ratliff is of no use to Cowboys

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- This should be Jay Ratliff's last season wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform.

Jay Ratliff
Jay Ratliff has missed seven games and has more personal fouls than sacks this season.
His production has decreased each of the past four seasons. He has missed seven of the Cowboys' 13 games this season and was out for the offseason with plantar fascia.

You never want a player counting $5.2 million against the salary cap and earning $2 million this season -- that's $117,647 per week -- to have more personal fouls than sacks.

Well, that's Ratliff's current reality.

Now, we find out he had a verbal confrontation with Jerry Jones in the locker room after the win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 2.

In the locker room after the game, Jones encouraged Ratliff to return from his groin injury, prompting Ratliff to yell at Jerry before teammates intervened, according to sources.

Mark Slough, Ratliff's agent, declined comment. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones offered a classic non-denial denial on his weekly radio show.

"That's in our locker room right after a game, certainly the press wasn't in there. We'd like to keep those things internally," Jones told KRLD-FM. "Certainly there's always going to be reports of things. Those are just things that I wouldn't want to comment on. I wasn't involved and I don't really want to comment on that right now."

The incident would explain why Ratliff, wearing navy slacks and a light blue collared shirt, stormed out of the locker room before the NFL-mandated 10-minute cooling off period when media is allowed in the locker room.

And it would explain why Jerry held his regular postgame news conference outside the locker room for the only time in six home games this season.

Players had to restrain the 6-foot-4, 303-pound Ratliff from the 6-1, 185-pound Jones.

Just so you know, Ratliff is 31 and Jerry is 70.

What a chump move. There's no other word for it, really.

If Ratliff shows no respect for Jerry, then how can we expect him to respect the head coach?

How can you expect him to be a positive role model for his young impressionable teammates such as Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford and Ben Bass?

You can't. That's why he must go.

It'll cost $6 million to cut him after the season, or $3 million in 2013 and another $3 million if they do it after June 1.

Ratliff has been a terrific player with four Pro Bowl appearances. In 2009, he was named All-Pro.

No more.

All you have to do is plunk down $70 on NFL.com and watch the All-22 game tape, the same video the coaches watch, and look for yourself.

Watch him getting moved out of the middle as running backs sprint past him. Watch him getting turned to and fro. Watch him make too many tackles downfield.

Ratliff's teammates love his passion. The coaching staff loves his work ethic and practice habits.

Well, it would be nice if his production matched his work habits.

He has two dumb personal fouls and no sacks this season. And one more tackle for loss than you do.

Ratliff has always been undersized as a nose tackle, where the prototype is 330-350 pounds, but he compensated for it with exceptional quickness.

The Cowboys usually have him shading the center's shoulder on one side or the other, which allows him to shoot gaps and be disruptive despite the constant double-team blocks that every nose tackle must handle.

Moving Ratliff to defensive end doesn't sound like a viable option because most tackles would still outweigh him and they're far better athletes than guards. Ratliff's quickness, his best asset, would be neutralized by moving to defensive end.

Before his body began betraying him, Ratliff could collapse the pocket and chase down the quarterback, when he tried to escape. These days, he can't close the deal.

He can still create pressure, but he has lost that tenth of a second that allows him to consistently sack the quarterback.

It's called age. It happens.

The NFL is a young man's game. Old players get hurt more often and their bodies take longer to heal.

That's reality.

Look no further than Ratliff for proof. It's the reason the Cowboys should release him now. It's always better to get rid of a guy a year earlier than later, which is what the best franchises do.

His altercation with Jerry is just another reason to say goodbye.