Jason Garrett deflects Jay Ratliff questions

IRVING, Texas -- A week ago when the Dallas Cowboys released Jay Ratliff, the defensive tackle had what was described as a “vicious” injury that would need about 12 months to recover.

On Wednesday, Ratliff was cleared medically.

What gives?

On Thursday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett mostly deflected questions regarding Ratliff.

“From a health standpoint we didn’t feel like he was ready to go,” Garrett said, “and we just thought it was the best decision for our club.”

The Cowboys released Ratliff with the “failed physical” designation.

On a conference call with reporters last week, Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, said his client “absolutely wanted to play football again,” but it wouldn’t be until 2014. The following day on ESPN 103.3 radio, Slough said Ratliff would be open to returning this season.

On Wednesday, Dr. William Meyers, who performed the sports hernia injury last December on Ratliff, determined the player could prepare for on-field tryouts. According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Slough has been contacted by six teams and Ratliff intends to meet with teams in the next few weeks.

“Certainly health was a huge factor in that decision,” Garrett said. “He hasn’t been able to play for us for the last year and a half. That was the primary reason we made that decision and again, we wish him nothing but the best going forward.”

The Cowboys do not have any financial recourse in forcing Ratliff to pay back any bonus money from the extension he signed in 2011. If he signs with another team, they would be able to recoup some of the guaranteed money from his 2013 base salary because of offset language in the deal.