So when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones uses the term “legal matter” when talking about former Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, what is Jones referring to?
Under the labor deal between the NFL and the NFLPA, the team’s only potential legal recourse comes from the filing of a so-called non-injury grievance under Article 43.
Both the Cowboys and the NFL have advised PFT that no grievance has been filed against Ratliff, yet. Under Article 43, Section 2, it must be filed within 50 days of the date of the thing that the grievance relates to.
Reading between the lines of the recent article from the team’s official magazine regarding Ratliff, the Cowboys possibly would argue that Ratliff pretended to be injured when he really wasn’t, ultimately forcing the team to put keep him on the Physically Unable to Perform list when he actually was healthy, and then to move on when it became apparent that he no longer intended to play for the team. Under that theory, the potential recovery would consist of the salary and bonus allocation for the first six weeks of the 2013 regular season, and possibly the full signing bonus allocation for 2013 through the end of the contract.
The fact that the Cowboys are even considering a grievance suggests that they’ve at least got some evidence to support their apparent contention that Ratliff essentially quit on the team. But the battle surely would be joined by Ratliff, and the ensuing fight would feature doctors espousing conflicting opinions and witnesses sharing diverging facts.
There’s a chance the Cowboys are merely huffing and puffing in the hopes of making Ratliff nervous. Now that he has signed with a new team, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Cowboys pursue any recovery against him, as their official magazine strongly implied they would.