Source: Tony Sparano gets extension

Updated: January 8, 2011, 12:30 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Miami Dolphins have given coach Tony Sparano a two-year extension, through 2013, worth in excess of $3 million per year, a source confirmed to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

The Dolphins were scheduled to hold a news conference Saturday to announce the deal.

Sources have told Mortensen raw emotions had developed between Sparano and Dolphins brass after the team's pursuit of Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh met Thursday with Miami owner Stephen Ross in the San Francisco area about the Dolphins' job, sources told Mortensen. Harbaugh and the Dolphins broke off talks later in the day, sources told The Associated Press.

Harbaugh ended up agreeing Friday afternoon to become the San Francisco 49ers coach.

A source told Mortensen on Thursday night the Dolphins would retain Sparano, who has one year left on his contract.

The Dolphins had scheduled a late-afternoon Friday news conference to discuss the retention of Sparano, but the session was postponed 20 minutes before the scheduled start.

Nearly two hours later, the Dolphins rescheduled the session for Saturday. A spokesman gave no reason for the postponement.

Sparano met Friday at the team complex with Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland.

The news conference promised to be an entertaining exercise in damage control. While in limbo this week, Sparano reported to work daily, even as Ross and Ireland flew to California.

Conducting a coaching search when the Dolphins still had a coach threatened to undermine Sparano, whose status was already shaky because of his team's late-season meltdown. The sequence of events also raised questions about the state of his relationship with Ireland, which dates back eight years, when both were with the Dallas Cowboys.

The offseason has gone much like the latter part of the season for the Dolphins, who lost their final three games, including a 38-7 drubbing at New England in their finale.

Ross said before the season he expected the Dolphins to reach the Super Bowl, but instead they finished 7-9 and failed for the eighth time in nine years to reach the playoffs.

Sparano led Miami to that lone postseason berth, in 2008, his first year as an NFL coach. He has a three-year record of 25-23.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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