FIEDLER GETS NEW DEAL

The Dolphins meant it when they said they wanted Jay Fiedler back as their starting quarterback, and they proved it on Wednesday by signing him to a new five-year contract.<P>Coach Dave Wannstedt also signed a new contract on Wednesday, getting a one-year extension through the 2004 season.

Despite having his share of critics, including many Dolphins fans still longing for Dan Marino, Fiedler has a 22-10 record as a starter, the second-best mark through 32 games among active quarterbacks. Only St. Louis' Kurt Warner, at 26-6, has done better.

Fiedler was scheduled to be paid a little over $1 million in 2002, but could have opted out of the final year of the contract by Feb. 23.

While he was looking for a pay raise, Fiedler made it clear all along his preference was to stay in Miami. And all along, Wannstedt said he wanted Fiedler back as his quarterback.

And now they have made it happen.

Fiedler has been somewhat inconsistent in his two years in Miami, but he played very well down the stretch in 2001 and became the only quarterback in franchise history other than Marino to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. In addition, Fiedler set a team record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 321.

Fiedler also showed the ability to rally the Dolphins, who had five fourth-quarter comeback victories in 2001 -- the second-highest total in team history.

As for Wannstedt, his 22-10 record in his two years as Dolphins head coach is the second-best among NFL head coaches during that span.


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