IRVING, Texas — Jerry Jones said Tuesday the Dallas Cowboys can clear enough space under the salary cap to sign anyone they want, and he's already delving into the work.
Jones arrived at team headquarters about 40 minutes before the official start of post-lockout activity. It appeared that he started with his top priority, the offensive line.
Left tackle Doug Free, who became a free agent under the terms of the lockout, and right tackle Marc Colombo, among the players likely to be cut to clear cap room, both showed up early and were gone within an hour.
Colombo's status is likely tied to Free. If Free leaves, the Cowboys would need another starting tackle; if Free stays, top pick Tyron Smith has practically been given Colombo's starting job. Right guard Leonard Davis said Tuesday that he met with offensive line coach Hudson Houck, perhaps to discuss the possibility of playing at tackle.
"My goal is to play here," said Colombo, who was among the veterans who helped run offseason practices. "If it works out in the next day or so, it works out. If it doesn't, it's been a great six years here with the Dallas Cowboys and I appreciate it."
To get under the cap, the Cowboys are expected to renegotiate several contracts and shed players with bloated deals. Running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman are other candidates likely to get dumped.
Jones vowed that finances won't slow him.
"We can get well under the cap, and we plan to and still sign players we want," Jones said. "We will be able to do what we want with the cap. ... Before the day is over, we will have contact with any player we have an interest in."
The Cowboys open training camp in San Antonio on Wednesday, so it was possible that players weren't going to flock to the facility on Tuesday. However, Jones said he invited several players for meetings, including those who could be cut once that's allowed on Friday. There's no point in them going to training camp just to be released, and Jones said he wanted to personally deliver the news.
Starting Tuesday morning, all NFL teams were allowed to re-sign their own free agents and to sign draft picks and undrafted players. They also were allowed to start negotiating with all veteran free agents, although those deals can't be signed before Saturday, and they could start making trades.
It's an entire offseason's worth of activity condensed into a few weeks. Jones said the front office, coaches and scouts were all ready to hit the ground running.
"This is a piece of cake compared to what we dealt with on the labor deal," Jones said. "This is a labor of love. I get to work on my team."
As for the labor deal, Jones said he was relieved to finally have it done.
"There was give and take, which is the way the fans would expect it," he said. "I'm sorry there was so much angst for the fans."
Separately, the NFL said that the Cowboys-Chargers preseason game at Cowboys Stadium has been moved from Saturday, Aug. 20, to Sunday night, Aug. 21.