Cornerback looking for long-term extension

The Miami Dolphins have granted three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain permission to seek a trade, according to his agent, Gary Uberstine.

"I've come to realize, it's a business," Surtain said. "I've had seven great years in Miami, but I think it's time for a change."

Surtain, sensing the team may not be able to structure a long-term contract extension to keep him, asked Monday to be traded. Coach Nick Saban responded by granting him permission to talk with other clubs about such a move. Surtain could represent a strong value for the Dolphins on the trade market.

"The Dolphins didn't set any perimeters as far as draft choices or players in a trade, only that they would entertain offers for Patrick," Uberstine said. "At the age of 28, we think Patrick should draw a lot of interest. He's been [picked] to three consecutive Pro Bowls, and he's a shutdown cornerback at a good age."

Surtain was chosen as an injury substitute for the Pro Bowl this season, but with the possibility of a trade, he pulled out of the game as a precaution.

Surtain is entering the final year of a contract that pays him $6.15 million in 2005 and has a cap number of $8.383 million. Because the Dolphins are more than $16 million over the projected $85.5 million cap, they are looking to either restructure contracts or release players.

"It doesn't surprise me because of their cap situation," Surtain said of the Dolphins' willingness to trade him. "I've been trying to get an extension for a couple of years. When I couldn't get one, I felt my days in Miami were going to end. Really, with the drafting of Will Poole, the signing of Reggie Howard and having an established guy like Sam [Madison], they had commitments to them.

"With me, it's the last year of my deal and my cap number is so high. If there was a casualty, it was going to be me. It's a business and I realize that."

Surtain and adison 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
in Howard and Poole.

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.

Over the past five seasons, Surtain has 25 interceptions, seven more than any other cornerback during the same period.

"Whatever team I go to is going to be happy," Surtain said. "I will try to get that team to the pinnacle of football. At the same time, I would want to be taken care of like one of the top players at your position, so I should be compensated.

"At 28, I feel good. It's been said by the organization that I didn't take care of my body and that I'm injury prone. During my seven-year career, I only missed four games. That's pretty healthy to me, and with me still being 28, my best football is ahead of me."

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.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and the Associated Press was used in this report.