Cowboys give NT Ratliff five-year contract extension

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff, a former seventh-round pick who made the most of his unexpected chance to be a starter this season, got a $20.5 million, five-year contract extension Friday.

Ratliff, who took over as the starter when Jason Ferguson suffered a season-ending torn biceps in the opener, got an $8 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-4, 298-pound Ratliff has 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.

Ratliff, a seventh-round pick out of Auburn in 2005, would have been a restricted free agent after this season.

Even since the midseason addition of Tank Johnson, Ratliff has kept the starting job and played the majority of snaps. With Ferguson and Johnson both also signed through at least next season, Ratliff can also play defensive end.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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