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GM Ireland denies Dolphins eager to part ways with Taylor

DAVIE, Fla. -- Jason Taylor might perform his sack dance with the Miami Dolphins this season after all.

The defensive end and star of "Dancing With the Stars" was the subject of trade speculation throughout the weekend. But when the NFL draft ended Sunday, general manager Jeff Ireland denied the Dolphins were eager to part with Taylor.

"We want the guy back," Ireland said.

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said his team pursued a deal, but the Dolphins took Taylor off the trading block.

"We talked," Del Rio said. "They had a certain price in mind, and nobody in the league was interested in that price. They like the player, and they're going to keep him. There's nothing wrong with that."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers denied rumors they were close to acquiring the six-time Pro Bowl defensive end.

Signals from the Dolphins have been decidedly mixed. On Saturday, owner Wayne Huizenga said the team was open to trading Taylor. Miami drafted two defensive ends as potential replacements -- Clemson's Phillip Merling in the second round, and Hampton's Kendall Langford in the third round.

But when asked about a pledge last month by new football czar Bill Parcells that Taylor wouldn't be traded, Ireland said, "Nothing has changed."

Along with Langford, second-day draft selections Sunday included Utah State guard-tackle Shawn Murphy in the fourth round, Toledo running back Jalen Parmele and Connecticut guard Donald Thomas in the sixth round, and Montana running back Lex Hilliard and Arizona defensive tackle Lionel Dotson in the seventh round.

"We're extremely happy with the group we got," Ireland said.

But much of the buzz was about a player they kept. Taylor has become a network TV star this offseason, but Parcells is unhappy his best player has been focused on a budding Hollywood career rather than being back in South Florida working out with teammates.

Taylor had 11 sacks last season to increase his career total to 117, third among active players. He made the Pro Bowl and was chosen NFL Man of the Year.

"Dancing With the Stars" could keep Taylor in California until May 20. He has said he wants to remain with the Dolphins, but at age 33, he also likes the idea of being traded to a contending team.

When asked about the new regime's relationship with Taylor, Ireland said: "Hopefully it's pretty good."

Parcells and Ireland did make four trades in their first draft with the Dolphins. Miami moved down in the third round and up in the fourth. A fourth-round pick went to the Dallas Cowboys for two potential starters, and reserve running back Lorenzo Booker went to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round pick.

The moves were part of the effort to rebuild a team that went 1-15 last season. The sorry state of the roster means many of the rookies will have a good chance to make the team this year.

Langford, who totaled 23 1/2 sacks in four years, was impressed to learn he had been drafted in a phone call from Parcells himself.

"That's big. That's big. Looking at that, that's big. That's big," Langford said. "Coach Parcells is a great guy. The whole coaching staff are great guys, and they're trying to get the Dolphins back to where they used to be."

Parcells' preference for size was evident in many of Miami's draft picks, starting with 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle Jake Long, the No. 1 overall selection. Even heftier is the 320-pound Murphy, son of former Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy.

"We like big guys that can play," Ireland said.

The 25-year-old Murphy switched from defense to offense in 2005 after spending two years on a church mission to Brazil. He credited his famous father for helping him reach the NFL.

"He has been a great guide and a great mentor," Murphy said. "He's always there. He has been a great comfort and a great help."

In all, the weekend netted Miami three offensive linemen and three defensive linemen, two running backs and one player each at quarterback, linebacker and tight end. That includes linebacker Akin Ayodele and tight end Anthony Fasano, both acquired from the Cowboys for the fourth-round pick.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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