Former Pro Bowler Ratliff joins Bears

Bears hope Ratliff can flash Pro Bowl form.

Bears hope Ratliff can flash Pro Bowl form.

The Chicago Bears agreed to terms with former Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff Saturday on a one-year deal, hoping he can return to his former Pro Bowl status and give the Bears struggling defensive line a boost.

Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, confirmed the signing and stated that he expects Ratliff to return to action within the month. “He’s still probably two to four weeks out,” Slough said when asked about Ratliff’s timetable for returning to the field. “It depends on how the rehab comes along.”

The 32-year old Ratliff is returning from a  from surgery he had last December to repair torn tendons that attach the pelvis to the inside of the leg and from the abdomen to the pelvis. He hasn’t seen action since last November 18, and became embroiled in a dispute with the Cowboys over his status. Dallas waived him October 16, ending his eight-year stint in big D. Ratliff and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones were at odds, and the distrust between player and team grew larger. To make matters worse, Ratliff was arrested for drunken driving last January, something the Bears certainly did their due diligence on.

If healthy, Ratliff is a penetrating three-technique tackle who fits the Bears scheme perfectly. He should be available for the stretch run of the season and will be extra motivated to show teams he’s still an elite player in hopes of a big payday come 2014. The Auburn producdt was a seventh round selection by the Cowboys in the 2005 NFL draft. He’s posted 228 career tackles, 27 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Ratliff apparently decided the Bears afforded him the best opportunity to get back on the field in a starting role quickly, though he visited with the Dolphins, Chiefs, and Bengals as well.

For now, the Bears are hoping that he can shore up the interior of a d-line rocked by injuries and poor performance. Ratliff could allow Corey Wootton to return to his natural defensive end position, further strengthening the unit. Wootton has filled in at tackle after Henry Melton and Nate Collins went down with season-ending injuries.

Ratliff is expected to join the club after Monday night’s game with Green Bay.

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