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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: same approach to free agency

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't believe the salary-cap penalties the NFL has assessed against his team affected its approach to free agency.

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Speaking at a pre-draft news conference Wednesday at Valley Ranch, Jones didn't deny that the $10 million penalty Dallas faces had some sort of impact. He agreed it did, "to some degree."

But for a team that signed several possible starters in a free-agency flurry, including big-ticket cornerback Brandon Carr, Jones doesn't believe the anticipated $5 million per-year hit changed the way it did business.

"We've really been able to manage," Jones said. "I would say we have not missed anything that we (would) have done relative to free agency, relative to the cap deduction that we have."

Dallas was unusually active in free agency, signing seven new players. That included Carr and his five-year, $50.1 million contract, along with deals for guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau and safety Brodney Pool.

The NFL has accused the Cowboys and Washington Redskins of creating an unfair competitive advantage during the uncapped year of 2010, inflating base-salary figures for certain players. The Cowboys received a $10 million penalty, and the Redskins were hit with a $36 million penalty, though they can be spread out over two years.

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There were no rules against dumping large base salaries into 2010, but teams still were upset about it. The Cowboys and Redskins are contesting the league's decision, which team owners voted 29-2 (the two dissenting votes belonging to Dallas and Washington, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers abstaining) to approve in March.

The NFL, Cowboys and Redskins are scheduled to have an arbitration hearing before the league system arbitrator Stephen Burbank on May 10. However, the NFL has moved to try to have their appeals thrown out.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told The Associated Press that the penalty had an effect on his team's offseason, but added that he can't talk about it further until the appeals process has played out.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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