Cowboys cut Williams, Barber, Davis to reach salary cap
IRVING -- Roy Williams. Gone.
Leonard Davis. Gone.
Marion Barber. Gone.
Kris Brown. Gone.
The Dallas Cowboys made up for four months of inactivity with a flurry of moves Tuesday to clear salary cap space and remake the identity of their roster.
They were roughly $18 million over the 2011 salary cap of $120 million when football officially reopened for business on Monday after the owners and players ended the lockout with a new collective bargaining agreement.
The first order of business was to clear cap room so they could sign free agents, including left tackle Doug Free, who agreed to terms late Tuesday, and their draft picks.
Cuts were expected to be made, but no one expected them to go this deep so quickly.
With the players scheduled to report to training camp in San Antonio today and the first practice at the Alamodome set for Thursday, the Cowboys didn't waste any time in ushering in Black Tuesday at the team's Valley Ranch training complex.
Owner Jerry Jones informed running back Marion Barber, guard Leonard Davis, kicker Kris Brown and receiver Roy Williams that they will all be released for salary cap reasons.
The Cowboys had planned to do the same with tackle Marc Colombo, but he is hoping to rework his deal and come back at a reduced salary.
The Cowboys can't officially make the cuts until Thursday, but the players were notified so they wouldn't show up for camp.
It's the first camp as head coach for Jason Garrett and he gets started with a younger roster and players ready to buy into his preaching of hard work and preparation.
The Cowboys saved about $15.7 million with three moves. Davis, Williams and Barber netted individual cap savings of $6 million, $5 million and $4.7 million, respectively.
Brown was due $910,000 salary this year so that puts the day's savings at $16.6 million.
Clearly, the biggest name on the list was Williams because of his big salary and the bushel of draft picks the Cowboys gave to Detroit to get him in 2008.
Williams did not come close to offering a return on the investment and was actually very understanding when Jones called him at his home in Dallas to let him know he was being released for salary-cap reasons.
"It is a business," Williams said. "It is what it is. It's a business. I would have done the same thing."
In 40 games with the Cowboys, Williams had 94 catches for 1,324 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He was going to be the third receiver in 2011, behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
"It wasn't even close to what I thought it was going to be," Williams said. "I appreciated the opportunity Mr. Jones gave me. I got a chance to play with three of the best players I have ever seen in Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware. It was a great opportunity. But it's over. It didn't work out here. It will work out somewhere."
Barber's release was long expected, considering he had been replaced in the starting lineup by Felix Jones and was scheduled to make a $4.25 million base salary and a $500,000 bonus.
He had a career-low 113 carries, 374 rushing yards and four touchdowns last season and has never had a 1,000-yard season in his six seasons despite the Cowboys signing him to a seven-year, $45 million deal in 2008 that included $16 million in guaranteed money.
The presence of Tashard Choice and the drafting of rookie DeMarco Murray made Barber even more expendable.
Davis' play has declined. He earned three consecutive Pro Bowls after signing a $49 million contract with the Cowboys in 2007.
His release was somewhat of a surprise because there is no clear-cut replacement for him in the lineup with left guard Kyle Kosier being a free agent. The Cowboys could re-sign Kosier and move Montrae Holland into Davis' spot.
There is still a chance Davis could come back at a reduced salary, but only after he tests the free-agent market.
Coming back at a reduced salary is the aging and injury-prone Colombo's only hope of returning to the Cowboys in 2011. He is due a $500,000 roster bonus and $1.9 million base salary. The Cowboys took Tyron Smith in the first round and gave him the starting job at right tackle.
Brown, signed at the end of last season to compete with kicker David Buehler, became expendable when the Cowboys found cheaper competition on the rookie free agent market, signing Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.