IRVING — The Cowboys and Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff have agreed to a five-year, $40 million contract extension this morning. As part of the deal, $18 million is guaranteed and $10 million will be up-front money in a signing bonus.
Ratliff still had two years left on his current contract, but the Cowboys and his agent, Mark Slough, have been working for “a while” on getting an extension done. They were able to pull it off just two days before the Cowboys open the regular season Sunday night at the New York Jets. The new contract will take Ratliff through 2017.
Slough was out at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters Wednesday to continue the discussions.
This is out of character for the Cowboys. They haven’t typically given players contract extensions with two years left on their current deal.
Ratliff has been a bargain for the Cowboys since he signed a five-year, $20.5 million contract extension (with an $8 million signing bonus) in mid-December 2007. Since then, he’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls.
The 2007 season was Ratliff’s first year to start. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft out of Auburn. Last season, Ratliff had 34 tackles, 3½ sacks and 10 quarterback pressures.
“I mean seventh-round pick who might have been an afterthought in that draft. Not an afterthought anymore,” Slough said. “And to do a third contract. I mean think that’s something else that’s really unique and a testament to him. A lot of guys get to the second big deal, which they may ultimately never complete. When Jay did his second deal, we did that deal early as you remember. I told Jay then, I said, ‘I’m not worried about doing this deal early. Number one it is a good deal for you at this time. But number two, if you outperform it , if you play well, you’ll have a chance at another deal. There’s another deal down the road. A little bit about that is strategy, trying to do a deal earlier so you get a chance to do another deal a little bit earlier. And you ultimately end up no more deals. Getting to a third contract, particularly when you’re a seventh-round pick, you’re already behind the eight-ball min this league economically. It’s not like you got paid first- or second-round money and then you got to that next big deal. You’re playing for the minimum. You’re just there. So you’re always fighting to kind of catch up. So that’s why for a guys in the later rounds of the draft or free agents or undrafted kids, I think it’s more important for them to try to maximize the number of deals you get because you’re already started from behind in this system. And so I feel ecstatic for Jay. I’m thrilled to death. He is very grateful and very happy to be here for life, which is what he wanted. So everyone’s happy. He’s happy. I’m happy.”
The 30-year-old Ratliff would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season under his current contract. Ratliff’s base salary this season was $3.75 million and it was $4.875 million in 2012, but those figures will be upped as part of the new contract extension.
A few weeks ago, the Cowboys agreed to a five-year, $26 million contract extension with cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who was in the final year of a rookie contract that paid him a base salary of $550,000.
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Jay Ratliff had little to say about the five-year, $40 million extension he agreed to Friday.
“I just want to focus on the season,” the Cowboys nose tackle said. “That’s it.”
Ratlif will continue to work under the final two years of his existing contract before the extension kicks in. But he will receive $18 million guaranteed _ the key to the deal _ with $10 million of that in a signing bonus.
“This is an exciting day for Jay,” said Mark Slough, Ratliff’s agent. “He’s expressed a desire to be a Dallas Cowboy for life and we were able to make it come true.
“At the end of the day, we got a result we believe works for everybody.”