The Miami Dolphins won one battle and lost another over the weekend.
Fresh off the trade for New Orleans running back Ricky Williams, the Dolphins announced on Saturday the re-signing of safety Brock Marion to a five-year contract. But the Dolphins also lost defensive end Kenny Mixon, an unrestricted free agent who inked a five-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
This was Marion's second straight year testing the free agent market as he signed a deal worth between $9 million and $10 million including a $2.75 million signing bonus. Getting him signed became a priority last week when fellow safety Brian Walker signed a five-year deal with the Lions.
"I'm pleasd that we were able to get Brock signed," said Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt. "He has been an integral part of our defense and his professionalism has made him a leader in the locker room. We knew it would be difficult to keep our starting safeties from last year, and we're happy we re-signed Brock, which gives us continuity at that position."
Marion, 31, started all 15 games in which he played at free safety in 2001 and finished third on the team with 97 total tackles, while also registering a team-high five interceptions for 227 yards in returns, including two touchdowns. His yardage figure is the second-highest single-season total in club history, and his two interception returns for scores tied a team season record. Over the last two years, Marion, who was voted to the Pro Bowl after the 2000 season, has combined for 206 tackles and 10 interceptions.
"I'm glad I was able to stay with the Dolphins," Marion said. "I've enjoyed my four years with the team, and I know we will continue to enjoy the same success we've had the last four seasons. I really didn't want to be anywhere else in the first place, and this allows me to finish my career as a Dolphin."
Mixon ended his three-year stay with the Dolphins when he signed the five-year deal with the Vikings for $17 million that includes a $3 million signing bonus.
"We needed a left end, and this was the guy our personnel department ranked as the top guy out there," said Vikings head coach Mike Tice.
The Dolphins will now step up their efforts in a big way to get backup end Lorenzo Bromell, also an unrestricted free agent, re-signed. Bromell was also in Minnesota last week visiting the Vikings.
IN OTHER NEWS
SEARCY SIGNS ONE-YEAR DEAL
The Dolphins took one small step toward re-patching last year's devastated offensive line by signing former Pittsburgh and Jacksonville tackle Leon Searcy. Searcy, who will be converted to a guard to compete with incumbent Todd Perry for the starting right guard position, signed a one-year deal worth $750,000.
JJ JOHNSON DEALT TO BROWNS
Considering he barely stepped on the field last season, it came as no shock last week when the Dolphins traded former No. 1 pick J.J. Johnson to the Cleveland Browns. The return for Miami isn't much but noone expected much. The Dolphins will get a conditional seventh round pick from the Browns in the 2004 draft but they will only get the pick if Johnson makes Cleveland's regular season roster in 2002.
Even though he was hobbled by a nagging hamstring injury, Johnson led the Dolphins in rushing his rookie season in 1999 with 558 yards. But with the emergence of Lamar Smith in 2000, Johnson saw his playing time severly curbed, eventually relegated to special teams duty last season.