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Latest to go: Marion, 2 others


Pro Bowl safety Brock Marion, receiver James McKnight and offensive lineman Mark Dixon are released as the Dolphins continue to slash salary. In two days, the team has shed some $20 million.




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The Dolphins continued their salary purge Friday but might take a breather before talking with other top players about restructuring contracts.


Pro Bowl safety Brock Marion, receiver James McKnight and offensive lineman Mark Dixon will be released before the start of free agency Wednesday, the Dolphins told the players' agents. The Dolphins also were believed to have released cornerback Jamar Fletcher, although his agent declined to comment.


Cutting Marion, McKnight and Dixon saves the Dolphins another $2.9 million in salary cap space.


Over Thursday and Friday, the Dolphins cut more than $20 million in salary-cap space through the release of five players, the restructuring of linebacker Zach Thomas' contract and new deals with defensive tackle Tim Bowens and kicker Olindo Mare.


With that done, the Dolphins started the more serious work of re-signing right tackle Todd Wade by sending a counteroffer to agent Tom Condon on Thursday. The team also held lengthy talks with agent Drew Rosenhaus regarding restricted free agent defensive end Adewale Ogunleye.




Meanwhile, the Dolphins discontinued serious talks with the agents for cornerback Sam Madison and defensive end Jason Taylor.


Madison's agent, Gene Burrough, said he had yet to receive a proposal from the Dolphins regarding Madison's deal and said he and his client aren't under any pressure to get something done.


''I had had an understanding that Sam was not an urgent matter before March 2,'' Burrough said, referring to Tuesday, the day before free agency starts. ``I've never felt an urgency about it. I didn't receive any proposal, and I'm not concerned about it.


``I do believe there will be a restructure at some point. We expect that. We always knew the final two years of the contract were unrealistic, but they haven't said anything about cutting Sam. If they were going to do that, I think he would know and I would know. They wouldn't want him reading about that in the paper.''


As for Taylor, who has a salary-cap figure of more than $8 million for next season, no restructuring has happened, agent Gary Wichard said.


''I haven't had any discussions with the Dolphins about Jason's contract,'' Wichard said. ``I'm working on six contracts right now, but none of them are Jason's and none of them are with the Dolphins.''


The Dolphins aren't in a rush anymore because they were able to trim so much from the cap the past two days. At the NFL scouting combine, general manager Rick Spielman said he was going through roughly 15 contracts as the Dolphins tried to whittle the cap to a manageable stage. ''We have a bunch of scenarios we can go through,'' Spielman said.


The Dolphins will eventually have to make other moves to re-sign the likes of Wade -- who has asked for a five-year, $25 million contract that includes a $10 million signing bonus -- and Ogunleye.




Ogunleye appears to be the toughest player for the Dolphins to keep because he is expected to draw interest from a number of teams despite the fact the Dolphins will require that they receive a first- and third-round pick for him if he goes elsewhere.


''The Dolphins are really interested in having him come back, but I think he's definitely going to get out on the market, and we'll have to see from there,'' said Rosenhaus, who represents Ogunleye.


The big problem for the Dolphins is if Ogunleye receives a front-loaded contract from a team with plenty of money under the salary cap -- a team such as Seattle. If, for instance, Ogunleye signed a deal that included a $5 million base salary in the first year, the Dolphins would be extremely challenged to match that because they would have to create more cap space -- and that would mean signing Madison or Taylor right away.


The Dolphins generally don't like to guarantee the contract of more than one or two high-priced players in a given year. Having already reworked Thomas' deal, it's unlikely they will rework more than one among the group of Madison, Taylor and cornerback Patrick Surtain.




On Thursday, the Dolphins re-signed safety Arturo Freeman to a two-year deal. Freeman, a backup to Marion and strong safety Sammy Knight last season, was told before he signed that either Marion or Knight would be let go to pave the way for him to win a starting job if he has a good offseason and training camp.


''It's part of football, and Brock understands that,'' said agent Jordan Woy, who represents Marion. ``It's never a good feeling when you've played for a team for several years and they decide to go another way. But it's probably a financial windfall for Brock because now he'll be available from the start of free agency.''


Woy said he didn't get the sense the Dolphins would bring Marion back later.


''I don't see that happening,'' Woy said.


The Dolphins saved $1 million on Marion, who was due to count for $2.65 million against the cap this season. He had three years and $1.65 million of signing bonus proration remaining on his contract.


The Dolphins save $1.44 million by releasing McKnight, who was scheduled to count for $2.16 million against the cap in 2004. The difference in the figures is based on the signing bonus McKnight received in 2001.


Cutting Dixon, who did not play last season because of a lingering ankle injury, saved the Dolphins a little less than $500,000.




Agent Brian Levy said quarterback Jay Fiedler is thinking over his options, including the possibility of staying with the Dolphins after being given permission to talk with other teams.


''Jay said he was going to take a couple of days to clear his head,'' Levy said. ``He's just had so much to consider, he needed to get away. . . . If Jay wants to stay, it's my job to work it out for him.


``I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the situation.''



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