DAVIE, Fla. (AP) _ The Miami Dolphins kept one of their starting linebackers in the fold for the second time in a week when they signed Robert Jones to a five-year contract Friday.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but reports in South Florida said it would average between $3 million and $3.5 million. Jones made $378,000 last year when he joined the Dolphins after his release by the St. Louis Rams.

A week ago, the Dolphins signed All-Pro middle linebacker Zach Thomas to a five-year contract worth $22.5 million. Together, Thomas and Jones helped lead a defense that gave up an NFL-low 265 points this past season.

Bucky Woy, Jones' agent, indicated his client took less money to stay with the Dolphins.

``If he wanted to go elsewhere or wait, he could have made bigger dollars out in the marketplace,'' Woy said. ``Robert felt it was important to stay with the Dolphins.''

Jones recorded 100 tackles last season, third on the team, after switching from his natural middle linebacker spot to the strong side. He also had a career-high five sacks and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

Jones made only one free-agent visit, traveling to Minnesota on Sunday. The expansion Cleveland Browns also reportedly were interested.

``I think it came down to the fact that Robert and Jimmy (Johnson, Dolphins coach) have gotten such a good relationship going,'' Woy said. ``This is a stable team that he sees as being a real contender.''

In 1996, Jones signed a four-year, $10 million deal with St. Louis but played two seasons with the Rams. He was cut after the team replaced coach Rich Brooks with Dick Vermeil. Jones was the team's leading tackler, but Vermeil still wanted to make a change.