Trade with Eagles likely will usher out Fiedler

Updated: February 23, 2004, 7:40 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Dolphins, anticipating they will be able to complete a trade for quarterback A.J. Feeley and sign him to a new contract, have given starter Jay Fiedler permission to talk to other teams.

A.J. Feeley
Feeley

Jay Fiedler
Fiedler

The move is regarded as the practical prelude to Fiedler being released next month, and to Feeley being elevated to the top perch on the depth chart, as the Dolphins attempt to upgrade production at quarterback.

Fiedler, 32, has been the team's No. 1 quarterback since 2000, with the eight-year veteran averaging 13 starts per season in that period. But the Dolphins have not qualified for the playoffs in consecutive years and the franchise made an overhaul of the quarterback spot its chief priority for this offseason.

There is interest in Fiedler, but his agent, Brian Levy, would not comment on where he will shop his client. Fiedler would be able to seek a trade only after Miami trades for and signs Feeley, who is a restricted free agent.

The Dolphins and Eagles agreed Saturday evening to the Feeley deal, which will become official March 3, when the league's current trade moratorium is lifted. In exchange for Feeley, the Eagles will receive a conditional second-round choice in the 2005 draft. A three-year veteran with five starts on his résumé, Feeley will sign a contract with Miami that can be for five years and $18 million and will include a $3 million signing bonus.

The door is being left open for Fiedler to return to Miami, albeit at a reduced salary. Fiedler is due a $2 million option bonus on April 5 that the Dolphins will not want to pay if they acquire Feeley. Fiedler also has a $3.7 million base salary for 2004.

The Cowboys, Buccaneers and Raiders are expected to make overtures to Fiedler. The Raiders' level of interest will depend on Rich Gannon's recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.

If Fiedler accepts a major pay cut, he would be able to compete against Feeley for Miami's starting job. However, knowing he might have a chance to move on to another team, Fiedler likely would refuse to take a cut.

Fiedler has started in 53 of his 66 regular-season appearances and has completed 899 of 1,514 passes, for 10,551 yards, 61 touchdowns, 58 interceptions and an efficiency rating of 78.1. Injuries limited him to 11 starts for Miami in 2003.

Senior writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli cover the NFL for ESPN.com and contributed to this report.