BURNETT COMES ABOARD

The Dolphins were looking to add a little depth at defensive end after losing both Kenny Mixon and Lorenzo Bromell in free agency, and they accomplished that goal in style this week with the signing of veteran Rob Burnett.<p>Two years removed from a 10.5-sack season, Burnett brings some pass-rushing ability to a Dolphins defensive line that should be strong against the run with the likes of Daryl Gardener, Tim Bowens and Larry Chester.

The 34-year-old Burnett signed a two-year contract worth $2 million, choosing the Dolphins over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Burnett was released by Baltimore in February as part of the Ravens' salary-cap-related purge. He has spent his entire career with that organization, beginning in 1990 when the team was still in Cleveland.

After helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl title two years ago, Burnett battled injuries throughout the season and finished without a sack in 13 starts.

"I had an opportunity to win a Super Bowl two years ago, and there's nothing like it," said Burnett, who said he is completely recovered from his injuries. "I figured if I had an opportunity to join a team that had a solid chance, why not take it?"

Burnett should begin the season as the backup left defensive end behind Gardener and will see action in obvious passing situations.

The signing is provide good insurance in case Gardener has problems with his back, which sidelined him for a good part of the 2001 season.

"It gives us more flexibility right across the board," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "When you look at all the intangibles -- his experience, his ability to make plays, his toughness, his familiarity with some of the coaches on the staff (Burnett played under defensive coordinator Jim Bates in Cleveland and under defensive line coach Clarence Brooks at Syracuse) ... we're really excited to have Rob come on board with us."


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