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February 14, 2008

Zach exits with class

Former Texas Tech all-American Zach Thomas was released by the Dolphins on Thursday, but he said goodbye with class and former Cowboys draft honcho Jeff Ireland, now the Dolphins GM, had lots of good things to say about Thomas.

Here's The Associated Press account:

“I have a tremendous appreciation and admiration not only for the Dolphins organization, but for the fans as well, for all of the support that they have given me,” Thomas said in a statement, in which he thanked owner Wayne Huizenga, new football operations head Bill Parcells and Ireland.

The 34-year-old linebacker said he plans to play with another team next season. There’s always a chance he could re-sign with Miami, although that seems, at best, doubtful.

“Zach Thomas has been a great player on this team for many years,” Ireland said. “And because of the type of player and the kind of person that Zach is, this was not an easy decision.”

Thomas missed most of last season because of concussions and migraines and was placed on injured reserve against his wishes in December because of nagging migraines, an aftereffect of an Oct. 21 car crash.

The move is the second major salary slash this week by the Dolphins, who went 1-15 last season and subsequently brought in Parcells to lead the rebuilding. Miami trimmed about $9 million in 2008 base salary on Monday, when it parted ways with quarterback Trent Green, wide receiver Marty Booker and seven other players.

Thomas was slated to make just over $5.6 million in base salary this coming season.

Thomas was the 154th player chosen in the 1996 draft, and many observers didn’t give the 5-foot-11 player from Texas Tech much chance of making the Miami roster. From there, he only wound up one of the best linebackers in Dolphins history.

A week ago, new Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said no decisions had been made about Thomas’ status for 2008. “We’re doing what we have to do,” Sparano said on Feb. 7 when asked about Thomas’ future.

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