Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker and one of the most popular and productive players ever to wear a Dolphins uniform, was released Thursday, the biggest move yet in Miami's massive rebuilding project.
"I have a tremendous appreciation and admiration not only for the Dolphins organization, but for the fans as well, for all of the support that they have given me," Thomas said in a statement, in which he thanked owner Wayne Huizenga, new football operations head Bill Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland.
Thomas, 34, said he plans to play with another team next season. There's always a chance he could re-sign with Miami, although that seems, at best, doubtful.
"I am healthy and look forward to playing in 2008, but will always consider myself a Miami Dolphin," Thomas said.
The team made Thomas aware of the decision Thursday morning.
"Zach Thomas has been a great player on this team for many years," Ireland said. "And because of the type of player and the kind of person that Zach is, this was not an easy decision."
|Zach Thomas led the Dolphins in tackles 10 times in 12 years. (Getty Images)|
The move is the second major salary slash this week by the Dolphins, who went 1-15 last season and subsequently brought in Parcells to lead the rebuilding.
Miami trimmed about $9 million in 2008 base salary on Monday, when it parted ways with quarterback Trent Green, wide receiver Marty Booker and seven other players. Thomas was slated to make just over $5.6 million in base salary this coming season.
Thomas was the 154th player chosen in the 1996 draft, and many observers didn't give the 5-foot-11 player from Texas Tech much chance of making the Miami roster.
From there, he only wound up one of the best linebackers in Dolphins history.
Thomas led the Dolphins in tackles 10 times, is the franchise's all-time leader in that category by a wide margin, and his 168 games is the most by any Miami defensive player.