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Surtain gets OK from Dolphins to seek trade

MIAMI (AP) _ Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain has received permission to seek a trade because the team is pessimistic about reaching agreement on a contract extension, his agent said.

Surtain, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, would cost the Dolphins more than $8.3 million against the salary cap in 2005, the final year of his contract. The team has until March 2 to cut $17 million off the cap and can save a little more than $6 million by trading Surtain.

Agent Gary Uberstine worked for two years on a contract extension. With talks at an impasse, Uberstine said he received approval Monday from Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman to pursue a trade.

``We're going to direct our energy and focus to trying to arrange a trade,'' Uberstine said.

The Dolphins and new coach Nick Saban declined to comment Wednesday. Saban earlier acknowledged he'll face difficult decisions because of the salary cap situation he inherited.

Surtain was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003. He was chosen as an injury substitute this season, but with the possibility of a trade, he pulled out of the game as a precaution.

In the last five seasons, Surtain has 25 interceptions, the most of any NFL cornerback. His durability has been questioned because of persistent knee trouble, but he has missed just four games in the last four seasons.

To set up a trade, Uberstine will need to work out a long-term deal with another team and compensation possibly a draft pick acceptable to the Dolphins.

Surtain and Sam Madison have been among the NFL's best cornerback tandems in recent years. Saban is apparently willing to trade Surtain because Miami has at least two potential replacements on the roster: veteran Reggie Howard and Will Poole, who played well last year as a rookie.

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