Owner Jerry Jones confirmed on Monday that the team has filed a complaint against Jay Ratliff for not playing with the Cowboys last year because of injury and then finishing the season as a member of the Chicago Bears.
According to a source, the Cowboys are looking to recoup signing bonus money, base salary from 2013 and money for a suite Ratliff purchased at AT&T Stadium.
"It just stems from him not playing for us under the pretense of injury, and then days later playing for someone else," Jones said. "We just have a complaint and we’ll see where we take it from there."
The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association are involved in the grievance. Jones has discussed the issue at length during the NFL Owner's Meetings in Orlando this week.
According to the source, Jones understand the situation may be an up hill battle because it was the Cowboys who terminated Ratliff's contract last season and NFL's collective bargaining agreement doesn't cover such a grievance.
But Jones and the Cowboys are looking to establish precedent so this type of thing _ "where a player can say he is hurt one day and signs to play with a team another" _ doesn't happen again, a source said.
It is the latest salvo in what has been a muddled relationship with the former Pro Bowler ever since he signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Cowboys in 2011. It included $18 million in guaranteed money and a $10 million signing bonus.
The situation started going down hill in 2012 when Ratliff missed 10 games and threatened Jones physically and verbally after a game.
Last year, Ratliff then missed the entire off season, all of training camp and the preseason recovering from a sports hernia surgery that his representatives said was much more serious than reported.
Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list for the first six weeks of the season. And when he still wasn’t ready to return and gave the Cowboys the understanding that he would not be ready to play at all this season, he was released on Oct. 16.
Ratliff was cleared to play by his surgeon a week later and began soliciting offers from other teams, culminating with his signing with the Bears.
Ratliff played in five games with Chicago to end the 2013 season. He recently signed a two-year, $4 million contract extension with the team.
It's a situation that still chafes the Cowboys who feel they were misled and are hoping to set precedent by filing a grievance against Ratliff.
At issue is a prorated portion of the $10 million signing bonus that Ratliff was paid in 2011 and the prorated portion of the $1.6 million base salary he received as a member of the Cowboys last year for six weeks. Muddling the situation even further is that Ratliff had his contract restructured last March, coverting $2.3 million of his original $3.6 million base salary into signing bonus.
The Cowboys hoping to get all or some of that money back as well as resolve the suite situation at AT&T Stadium.