As had been expected, the Dolphins announced Monday that Coach Dave Wannstedt would receive a contract extension and that a general manager would be hired. But there was a surprise element to the press conference.

That came when it was revealed that Wannstedt was getting not a one-year but a two-year contract extension, through the 2006 season.

"When you make that type of contract extension, it's sending a message not only to the fans but to the players," Wannstedt said.

Wannstedt met with team owner Wayne Huizenga on Monday morning and discussed a wide variety of topics concerning the team.

According to team president Eddie Jones, Huizenga had made up his mind to keep Wannstedt last week but Wannstedt asked the owner to not discuss his status so he could focus on the regular season finale against the New York Jets.

The other part of the announcement on Monday was that the Dolphins would hire a general manager to be in charge of personnel decisions, a role previously handled by Wannstedt.

Jones said a decision would be made soon, but that the interview process would be tough this week because of the holidays.

Jones said the Dolphins had about a half-dozen candidates in mind. The two mentioned by name were former Saints GM Randy Mueller and current Dolphins senior vice president-football operations Rick Spielman.

After Wannstedt mentioned in his press conference that what former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson really enjoyed about his job was dealing with personnel, Jones was asked whether Johnson would be a candidate.

Jones said he had not talked to Johnson but knew that Johnson wouldn't be interested because he's happy fishing in the Florida Keys.

Both Huizenga and Wannstedt will be involved in the interview process, although not in the initial stages.

"We believe that this change gives us a well-balanced football structure," Huizenga said in a statement.

"This reorganizatio will allow the new general manager to devote all of his attention to improving the talent on our roster, and at the same time it will give Coach Wannstedt and his staff the ability to focus even more on preparing the team to play every week."

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