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Dolphins to release Vonnie Holliday [Update 2]

The Miami Dolphins will release defensive end Vonnie Holliday today, his agent Brian Levy is telling me.

"He enjoyed his time here," Levy said. "He did everything asked of him and he can leave with his head held high. This is a business. Players leave teams and teams leave players. It's an amicable split. He's happy to have left the Dolphins on a winning note."

The Dolphins are taking this step because they were due to pay Holliday a $1.5 million roster bonus Tuesday and another $500,000 workout bonus later this offseason.

The team offered Holliday, 33, an opportunity to renegotiate his contract but it was obviously at a pay cut and not one the player or his agent wanted to accept.

Holliday would have cost the Dolphins $5.75 million against the cap had he collected the bonus and his base salary in 2009. The team saves $3.25 million by cutting Holliday but he still will be on the books as a $2.5 million cap hit.

Holliday was a team captain for the defense and one of its leaders. He led all defensive linemen with 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

The Dolphins are obviously expecting second-year player Phillip Merling or 2008 acquisition Randy Starks to step into the starting job, with Kendall Langford handling the starting job at the other defensive end spot. The club also has second-year player Lionel Dotson on the roster.

The defensive end spot does not immediately become a need with the termination of Holliday's contract, but it is diminished by the loss of experience and leadership. The Dolphins will likely add another defensive lineman sometime this offseason.

[UPDATE: The Dolphins have confirmed my report and released the following statement from general manager Jeff Ireland: "These types of decisions are always difficult ones, especially with someone like Vonnie, who has been a role model both on the field and off it. He was one of our captains last year and was a proven leader, not just in his tenure with the Dolphins, bit throughout his 11-year career. We are grateful for all his contributions to the Miami Dolphins organization and we want to wish him and his family the best of luck in the future."]

[UPDATE 2: The Dolphins had no unrestricted free agents visit on Monday.]

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