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Marino Voids Dolphins Contract

Dan Marino, the leading passer in NFL history, today voided the final two years of his contract with the Miami Dolphins, paving the way for his retirement.

He also could return to the Dolphins or go to another team as a free agent, which is considered unlikely.

Two newspapers reported that Marino was more likely to re-sign with the Dolphins rather than leave for another team if he decides to play another year.

The move, which will save the Dolphins $6 million under the salary cap, was expected. Dave Wannstedt, the team's new coach, has consistently indicated he'd prefer to go with a quarterback younger than the 38-year-old Marino, who had the worst season of his 17-year career in 1999.

The team plans to try both Damon Huard, who was 5-1 in games he started last season, and Jim Druckenmiller, obtained from San Francisco in a trade before last season. Marino could be insurance if he returns.

Marino and the Dolphins have agreed that if he decides to play another season, he will sign a new contract with the team, the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale said, citing unidentified sources.

"This gives us additional room under the salary cap that we need for free agency, while at the same time, it allows Dan to have additional time to consider all his options," team president Eddie Jones said in a statement.

Marino is expected to announce whether he will retire by March 20 the first day of the Dolphins' off-season practice session. He has recently declined all interviews.

By voiding his contract, Marino would give up a 2000 salary of $5.75 million plus a $1 million bonus he is set to receive for being on the roster on April 1. His 2001 salary was unavailable.

The Sun-Sentinel said the Dolphins will likely reinstate the bonus if he re-signs. Because there is no guarantee that Marino would be the team's starter if he returns, any new contract would have a smaller base salary and be loaded with incentives, the paper said. The minimum Marino could sign for is $440,000.

The free agent signing period begins Friday and the Dolphins are about $4 million beneath the NFL's $62.5 million salary cap. If Marino voids his contract, the team would be $10 million below the cap.

Marino threw 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 1999, missing five games and most of a sixth because of a neck injury.

In the playoffs, Marino led the Dolphins to a 20-17 win over Seattle in the first round, but the team was embarrassed 62-7 the next week against Jacksonville.

The Dolphins trailed 38-0 before Marino completed a pass, and he finished 11for-25 for 95 yards with three turnovers.

Head coach Jimmy Johnson, with whom Marino had feuded, quit the next day and was replaced by Wannstedt. The Herald says Wannstedt wants Marino to retire, but will not force him to if he wants to play.

©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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