Needless to say, all sides were happy when the Dolphins and linebacker Zach Thomas agreed on a five-year contract extension through the 2008 season.

The new deal should keep Thomas in a Dolphins uniform for the rest of his career. It also gave the Dolphins some cap space, space they might use to pursue Chargers Pro Bow linebacker Junior Seau.

"I'm definitely grateful to re-sign with the Dolphins," Thomas said. "I thank all of them for taking care of me, mainly because hopefully I can end my career here.

"It's a long contract and I was definitely looking forward to staying here because I love it down here."

The new deal was reached shortly before the Dolphins were due to pay Thomas a roster bonus. The sides had been talking on and off for a while.

"This will allow him to be a Dolphin for his entire career, and that is important to us," said Dolphins president Eddie Jones. "It's also in accord with our philosophy to reward our top players, and we've been successful in keeping our good players.

"We've got 21 of 22 (starters) this next season under contract and we're always pleased to be able to do that. We have a good football team and we think it's important to keep it together."

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