Jay Ratliff started his NFL career as a 7th Round Draft Pick. He outplayed his draft position, became a star and earned a $20 Million contract. He's now outplayed that contract and earned a new one. The Cowboys will need to cross their fingers and hope that this latest commitment to the star Defensive Tackle doesn't sting, because it's quite hefty.
Ratliff's extension will pay him $40 Million over five years from 2013 to 2017, with $18 Million guaranteed and reportedly $10 Million as an up-front signing bonus. Ratliff's last deal is worth around $8.5 Million over the next two years.
Talk of a potential extension began a little more than a week ago. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones joked about Ratliff being underpaid at a luncheon, and Ratliff's agent seized on the quotes afterward, saying he believed his client had outperformed the $20 Million deal. Evidently, the team agreed.
The Defensive Tackle remains one of the most effective players at his position. He's one of the NFL's leading interior pass-rushers, and one of the only Nose Tackles to provide any kind of rushing presence. But Ratliff's tackle, sack, pressure, and QB hits have all noticeably fallen since a spectacular 2008 campaign. He's also 30 years old, the age at which most players begin to decline.
Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan's gone on record with his belief that Ratliff is one of the NFL's finest Defensive Tackles. Much like Orlando Scandrick's deal several weeks ago, this extension might be partly based on a belief that Ryan's scheme is a great fit for the player.
Additionally, The Cowboys restructured Quarterback Tony Romo's contract to clear salary cap space. Romo received an immediate bonus of over eight million dollars, money he would have otherwise received in an even spread throughout the season.
The Cowboys have now made a total commitment of $118.2 Million toward extending four of their own players this offseason. Doug Free, Orlando Scandrick and Marcus Spears also inked big deals.
Ratliff will be 36 at the end of the deal.