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Congrats to Jay Ratliff on his new contract with the Cowboys

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I am digging the signing of Jay Ratliff. First, I think it’s a very reasonable contract for the Cowboys. He’s young, improving and has already showed he can be a starter in this league. A few years down the road we might be saying ‘I can’t believe we signed him so cheaply’. Here’s the deal:

Ratliff signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract extension that includes an $8 million signing bonus.

Ratliff, who was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the season, has been the starting nose tackle since Jason Ferguson suffered a torn triceps in the season opener. Ratliff has 24 tackles, 1 ½ sacks, four pass deflections and three tackles for losses on the season. He is second on the team with 13 quarterback pressures.

"He's thrilled beyond belief," Ratliff's agent, Mark Slough, said, "and not just because this is a good financial leap for him and his family. It allows him to focus on football and not have to worry about his status on the team."

But there’s another reason I love this signing, Jay Ratliff was my pet cat before I knew what a pet cat was. If I can take a second to pat myself on the back, I was all over Jay at the 2006 training camp in Oxnard. It was my first camp and Jay was my first call as a surprise player. Here are some of my comments:

Mon Jul 31, 2006
Also, Jay Ratliff was very active today, strengthening his bid to make the final roster.

So far I've really liked what I've seen from Jay Ratliff...

Tue Aug 01, 2006
I'm psyched about the work Ratliff has done in camp so far, I think he's firmly off the bubble.

Sun Aug 06, 2006
But if you want to look for a silver lining, it's the play of Jay Ratliff filling in on the 1st unit. For the first couple of days after Spears' injury, Kenyon Coleman was lining up with the 1st team, but Ratliff's play was so good it was only a matter of time until he was elevated to the starter.

Sat Aug 12, 2006
Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff were terrors in camp at defensive end. Jay Ratliff's play in the absence of Marcus Spears made everyone in camp kind of forget that Spears wasn't there. There were certain days when Ratliff literally dominated practices. I wouldn't have believed it in the first few days after Spears was hurt, but Marcus is going to have a battle to keep Ratliff from taking over as the starter. Ratliff was that good.

OK, I get a ton of things wrong so let me gloat a second when I get it right.

I’m not sure what this means for the nose tackle position next year, the Cowboys have a few ways they could go. One - my personal favorite - keep Jason Ferguson and Tank Johnson and slide Jay Ratliff in as the starter at LDE. Or they could choose to release either Fergie or Tank. Fergie is a seasoned vet who can play the position but he is getting up in age and will cost close to $4 million next year. On the other hand, Tank will only cost $500,000 next year and could show huge improvement with an offseason of work, but the Cowboys could also release him with no financial issues. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

At least we know that Jay is going to be here for the next few seasons.

Nick Eatman has more on Jay’s signing, here. Eatman also reminds about our other free agents, both unrestricted and restricted.

Ratliff was the Cowboys' first key future restricted free agent to sign an extension with the club. Running back Marion Barber and defensive end Chris Canty also are set to become restricted free agents at the end of the year.

Wide receiver Patrick Crayton, running back Julius Jones, left tackle Flozell Adams, cornerbacks Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones and safeties Ken Hamlin and Keith Davis are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the season.

The DFW S-T says we are already in talks with Patrick Crayton.

The Cowboys are negotiating a contract extension for receiver Patrick Crayton, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

The team might also work on new deals for safety Ken Hamlin and tackle Flozell Adams. Both will be unrestricted free agents in 2008 and owner Jerry Jones has already said he’d like to re-sign both players.

Hat tip to nzach54 for breaking the news in this diary.

Hat tip to silverblue5 for posting this diary about DeMarcus Ware that points us to this article. You should read the article then comment in silverblue5’s diary.

Has Nick Eatman been reading this blog?

P.S - Don't start a Parcells debate thread here, if you want to do that, there are a few diaries open for that. I just wanted to point out Eatman's article.