For a guy who once signed Deion Sanders to a $12.999 million signing bonus and who also thought Randall Cunningham would make a good fit as backup quarterback, Tuesday must have driven Jerry Jones crazy.

All that Pepsi and Papa John’s money, and no way to spend it.

All those NFL free agents, and Owner Jones had only $177,000 to offer any of them.

The Dallas Cowboys were not alone on the sideline as free agency officially began Tuesday. Salary cap Loophole Limbo also has the Panthers, Saints and Redskins, among others, in its clutches.

That must be little consolation to Jones, however, the eternal wildcatter, who has always seemed happiest when he’s got cash in his pocket, looking for somewhere to spend it.

Free agency is the NFL’s cathouse. And Jerry couldn’t even go in Tuesday and look around.

I tried reading the NFL collective bargaining agreement once. I had better luck Tuesday understanding the Latin being chanted at the Vatican conclave. Nonguaranteed money, back-loaded contracts, pro-rated signing bonuses, the 30-Percent Rule — no wonder NFL teams have felt a duty to manipulate it.

Jones’ personal pleasure — and his poison — has been the signing bonus. Jerry’s generosity, often rendered prematurely, frequently has left him with back-loaded bonus money due to players who have lapsed into Cowboys footnotes.

Sanders’ signing paid off. But was Leonard Davis really worth $18.75 million?

Fans love NFL free agency. To them, it is Christmas in March.

Free agency is how Drew Brees became a New Orleans Saint and led them to the Super Bowl. Free agency is how the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl behind Kurt Warner.

But buyer beware, even when the buyer, like Jerry, has a billion dollars.

There are no secrets here, Jones should know. The surest, wisest way to build a Super Bowl champion is through the NFL Draft.