LB Burnett reaches deal with Dolphins

Veteran Kevin Burnett signed Saturday with the Miami Dolphins as a replacement for Channing Crowder at inside linebacker.

Crowder, a six-year starter for Miami, was released Friday following the first practice of training camp to pave the way for Burnett’s acquisition.

Burnett played for San Diego the past two seasons. He started seven games in 2009 and all 16 games last year, when he had 80 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions.

A second-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, Burnett spent four seasons with them.

”I have a good history with Kevin,” said Miami coach Tony Sparano, a former Cowboys assistant coach. ”I was there with him in Dallas when we drafted him. This is a guy who can play on all three downs and runs really well and can cover some of the bigger tight ends and bigger backs in our league.”

Replacing Crowder with Burnett gives the Dolphins more flexibility and better pass coverage, Sparano said. Even so, cutting Crowder wasn’t easy.

”It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do,” Sparano said. ”It’s not the fun part of my job. Channing has been a pretty special player to me.”