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Dolphins appear closer to getting quarterback Matt Flynn

By Barry Jackson, McClatchy Newspapers –

MIAMI — The Dolphins intensified their courtship of Matt Flynn on Saturday, hosting the free agent quarterback for a 5 ½-hour visit at team headquarters. Now they hope to close the deal.

“He’s excited to be down there,” his father, Alvin Flynn, said by phone Saturday, before Flynn met with Miami. “He is very fond of Joe Philbin. He has warm feelings for him.”

The Dolphins are viewed around the league as the favorite for Flynn, and there’s strong mutual interest, but the sides need to agree on financial terms. Discussions are ongoing.

Flynn, who visited Seattle on Friday, could turn back to the Seahawks if he cannot come to terms with the Dolphins.

“He likes (coach) Pete Carroll,” Alvin Flynn said. “They hit it off well.”

Alvin Flynn expects a resolution in the next couple of days.

The Dolphins have a few advantages that make them the perceived front-runner: Flynn’s association with Philbin from their four years together in Green Bay; the expectation that Seattle wants to see what happens with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, pending a decision from Peyton Manning; and the likelihood that Flynn would be brought to the Dolphins as the clear front-runner to start.

In Seattle, he might be asked to compete with Tarvaris Jackson.

Alvin Flynn said “with the familiarity” with Philbin, “there’s a sense of comfort” for Flynn. Matt Flynn and Philbin spoke several times last week, Alvin Flynn said.

Philbin and Carroll both run West Coast offenses, but there are differences. Philbin’s offense is expected to be very similar to the one used in Green Bay.

“Matt could run that offense in his sleep,” his father said.

Because of delays on his flight from Seattle and a layover in Los Angeles, Flynn did not arrive in South Florida until 6 a.m. Saturday, his father said. He underwent medical tests in the morning, then was at the Dolphins’ facility from noon until 5:30 p.m., meeting with coaches and front-office personnel.

Alvin Flynn said “it was antsy” for his son last week, as he waited on teams who were pursuing Manning.

“He was very fortunate to be drafted by Green Bay,” Alvin Flynn said. “They are very good teachers. Aaron Rodgers took Matt under his wing, and he has learned a tremendous amount.”

Flynn was the only free agent who visited Dolphins camp Saturday, the fifth day of free agency. Of the five players who previously visited, three signed: defensive back Richard Marshall, defensive end/linebacker Jamaal Westerman and offensive lineman Artis Hicks.

Two others left without signing: Eric Winston, who agreed to terms with Kansas City on Saturday, and Patriots defensive end/linebacker Mark Anderson, who will visit the Titans on Sunday. Anderson is still considering the Dolphins and New England.

The Dolphins did not have the cap space to afford Winston, considered the premier right tackle available. Here’s where the Dolphins stand at other offensive positions, besides quarterback:

Receiver: They haven’t landed any of the most sought-after receivers, including Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay), Eddie Royal (San Diego), Laurent Robinson (Jacksonville) and Brandon Lloyd (New England). Several others, including DeSean Jackson of the Eagles, stayed put.

There are only a few starters left in free agency. The Dolphins called about Mario Manningham but have not had the cap space to pursue him aggressively. Among others available who could start or compete to start: Roy Williams, Braylon Edwards, Deion Branch, Donnie Avery and Roscoe Parrish.

The one premier restricted free agent receiver is Mike Wallace, but a team would need to relinquish a first-round pick if Pittsburgh did not match an offer. It’s very unlikely Miami would do that. The good news: This is considered a deep draft for receivers.

Running back: The Dolphins are mostly set here, with Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Steve Slaton. Lex Hilliard was non-tendered; they could add a fullback before training camp to compete with CFL import Jerome Messam.

Offensive line: The Dolphins might add another player or two to compete on the right side, perhaps in the draft. As it stands now, Lydon Murtha and Hicks (who has made 71 NFL starts) will compete at right tackle, with John Jerry, Nate Garner and possibly Hicks battling at right guard. The Dolphins haven’t pursued numerous full-time starters who are unsigned.

Tight end: The Dolphins appear likely to stick for now with Anthony Fasano, barring something unexpected. All that’s left is veterans past their prime: Dallas Clark, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jeremy Shockey and Donald Lee, and a few others who wouldn’t be an upgrade over versatile backup Charles Clay.

Also Saturday, former Dolphins defensive lineman Kendall Langford signed a four-year, $24 million deal with St. Louis, with $12 million guaranteed. The Dolphins did not need him after re-signing Paul Soliai.

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