5 Reasons the Dallas Cowboys Should Part Ways With Jay Ratliff

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Dallas Cowboys' staff and ownership have a big decision to make on nine-year veteran Jay Ratliff relatively soon.

Ratliff is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. While the decision to cut him from the team will put this team at a financial and competitive disadvantage at the moment, it may be the right decision moving forward.

Here are the five reasons Ratliff needs to be cut:

1. Decision making

Coming off the sudden death of teammate Jerry Brown Jr., which caused the arrest of Josh Brent after driving home from a bar under the influence, Ratliff made the same mistake. On the morning of January 23, Ratliff was arrested and charged with a DWI after his pickup struck an 18 wheeler.

Ratliff was coming home from hanging with friends and had an odor of alcohol on his breath according to this report by Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas. As all players are aware of, there is a driving service that will take players home safely in order to avoid such ordeals.

2. Lack of production

Since the 2009 season, Ratliff hasn't been up to the task of contributing from a pure statistical standpoint. During the season of 2009, he had six sacks and 29 tackles. Since that time, he has accumulated 5.5 sacks and 62 tackles in the following four seasons. His sack numbers are the main focus of concern, especially with the depth issues this team is currently having. Having only played in six games in 2012 season and none this year, this team has had little production from the position before changing schemes.

3. Jason Hatcher

When Dallas removed Rob Ryan from his defensive coordinator position and brought Monte Kiffin in from the college level, Rat was expected to be a big contributor at the 3-technique tackle position. However, when training camp opened up in July, he showed up with a hamstring injury that would cost him the first six weeks of the season.

Jason Hatcher took the role of that position as soon as the team realized Rat wouldn't be available to start the season. As everyone saw on NBC Sunday Night Football, he is more than up to the task of harassing opposing quarterbacks. The season is only six games old and Hatcher has already eclipsed his total number of sacks from a season ago with five.

4. Opportunity

While Jason Hatcher has taken over and succeeded very well at the 3-technique, Ratliff's vacancy on the field has allowed this team to get a better look at their backups. Nick Hayden, who didn't play a snap in 2012, has done well in his role of eating blocks to allow this linebacking crew to get to the ball carrier without much difficulty. His performance has also allowed the defensive ends to get more one-on-one matchups. There have been opportunities all over this defensive line, but the tackle position seems to be the most surprising.

5. Cleaning up the locker room

There is no denying that Ratliff plays with a competitive fire on the field. This would be very appreciated by the fiery defensive line coach Rob Marinelli. Marinelli showed his fire last Sunday against the Redskins when he was flagged 15 yards for letting an official know he made the wrong call.

However, Ratliff doesn't seem to leave that fire on the field as it has been seen inside the locker room. As reported by Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas, Ratliff and owner Jerry Jones got into a spat when Jones attempted to encourage him to get back from injury after a win against the Eagles last season.

Over the past few years, head coach Jason Garrett has tried to make an emphasis on keeping the right guys around. They have cleaned out such players as Terrell Owens, Adam "Pacman" Jones and Marion Barber. If you don't follow the guidelines set by Garrett, you aren't going to play for him.

The bottom line

While there is no denying that Jay Ratliff was a big part of the defense over the last nine seasons, it may be the perfect time to part ways. He played a lot better than his seventh round selection would suggest, but Ratliff was playing at a high level in the SEC his senior season. The team finished his senior season with a 13-0 record, but narrowly missed out on a national championship berth.

By cutting Ratliff and designating him as a June 1 cut, it would save this team $1.3 million. Thus, by releasing him would allow this team to sign future draft selections. This could also allow Dallas to focus on a few undrafted free agents to help this team moving forward. So far this season, Ratliff hasn't made a contribution to this team, and it wouldn't be much more difficult to keep it that way.

Whether or not Michele Tafoya's report is correct, it has the nation of Dallas Cowboys fans abuzz.

Patrick Conn has been covering the NFL Draft and the Dallas Cowboys for the last year. The West Texas native has a Dallas Cowboys Podcast and is the founder of Draft Cowboys. Some of his work has even been published on SI.com.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter @PatSportsGuy.

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