12:21 PM PT -- The Wichita PD tells TMZ Sports ... they got a call around 1 AM on Friday morning about a "rape in progress."

Cops responded to an apartment complex and found a 28-year-old woman "who had minor facial injuries, and reported being sexually assaulted by Randle."

"Through the investigation Randle was arrested and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail. The investigation is ongoing and will be presented to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office."

Ex-Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle was arrested for rape in Kansas early Friday morning ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

The details surrounding the arrest are unclear -- but jail records in Sedgwick County, KS show the 26-year-old was booked for rape at 3:43 AM on Sept. 7. 

According to his booking sheet, he's being held without bond at a local detention center. He's listed at 6'1" and 215 lbs.

Randle has been in trouble with the law before -- he was arrested 6 times in 17 months including an incident in which he stole underwear and cologne from a department store while he was still playing for the Cowboys.

Since then, he was arrested at a casino, busted at his ex-girlfriend's home, and allegedly ripped a TV off the wall in jail.

Back in June, he was sentenced to 5 years probation for an incident in which he tried to run over people with his car after losing at a drinking game at a party.

He had been bouncing between jail and mental health facilities after that incident -- but the court ultimately declared him mentally competent to receive his punishment for the crime. 

Randle was a 5th round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft -- and was named the starting RB for the Cowboys during the 2015 season, but was waived by the team later that season.

Story developing ...