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Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: October 17, 3:59 AM ET
Cowboys release Jay Ratliff

By Todd Archer
ESPN.com

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have released defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.

Ratliff was eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list this week but the team decided to part ways with the four-time Pro Bowler.

The Cowboys put Ratliff on the PUP list at the start of training camp after he suffered a strained hamstring in the conditioning run and he still was recovering from a sports hernia surgery last December. Ratliff's agent, Mark Slough, said the surgery was much more severe than a typical sports hernia.

According to Slough, Ratliff tore tendons that attached the pelvis to the inside of the leg and from the abdomen to the pelvis.

"He absolutely 100 percent wants to play football again," Slough said. "He has a passion for the game. He has a love for the game. He has absolutely no intention of not playing again in 2014. If he could've played this year he would've been on the field. Those people who ever questioned his loyalty or maybe questioned his desire to play, integrity, all those things, those questions were misplaced. But again I think a lot of that was no one really understood the severity of the injury Jay suffered and the result was there were unrealistic expectations for his return being bantered about."

Slough said doctors advised Ratliff that it would take a year to heal. The Cowboys, however, did not place Ratliff on injured reserve after the surgery last season, hoping he could return for a possible playoff appearance that never came.

Slough said he and Ratliff never felt the need to clear up the confusion. He said the relationship between Ratliff and the team doctors was "strained." In August, Ratliff alluded to tension with the team's medical staff.

He did most of his rehab away from Valley Ranch in the offseason as well as during this season.

"Jay isn't one to speak a lot in the media as you know and as a result I do what I'm asked to do so we just chose to let it be," Slough said.

Jay Ratliff
The Cowboys released defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who had been eligible to come off the PUP list.

Requests to speak to the Cowboys' medical staff as well as owner Jerry Jones were denied. Coach Jason Garrett will address the topic at his Thursday news conference. Slough said he did not believe there was a breakdown in communication because the Cowboys, "doctors and staff were supervising all of his treatment. They knew where he was and what he was doing."

The Cowboys restructured Ratliff's contract in the spring to create salary-cap space and hoped he would return to form in the defensive move to the 4-3 scheme but he was unable to get healthy enough to play.

The end came quickly for Ratliff, who made the Pro Bowl from 2008-11. His sack total decreased every year from 2008-12, going from 7.5 to none last year when he was limited to six games.

On Sept. 9, 2011, the Cowboys signed Ratliff to a five-year extension worth $40 million and included $18 million guaranteed. Two years later they decided to cut him. The move will save $625,000 against the salary cap this year, but he will count $6.9 million in dead money in 2014.

Despite the immediate need for defensive line help, the Cowboys were willing to part ways with Ratliff instead of giving him more time to get ready to possibly play this season. He had an altercation in the locker room with Jones following a game last season in which he had to be restrained by teammates.

Slough said that incident did not play a factor in the Cowboys' decision to cut Ratliff on Wednesday. Last January he had a drunk driving arrest, six weeks after Jerry Brown died in a car accident in which teammate Josh Brent was allegedly driving and a court case is pending.

Ratliff released a statement through his agent Wednesday: "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 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."