RB Barry Sanders would consider playing for the Dolphins, among other teams, if he comes out of retirement next season, his agent said.

Whether Jimmy Johnson returns as coach wouldn't affect Sanders's decision regarding Miami, said his agent, David Ware. Sanders hasn't decided if he wants to play in 2000, Ware told the Miami Herald in yesterday's editions.

"I've tried to avoid dealing in hypotheticals," Ware said from his Atlanta office. "But if we put him in a position where he can go to another team, certainly Miami would be high on his list of places where he would like to play."

A Jan. 11 arbitration hearing is scheduled to determine Sanders's future. The Lions want him to return $5.5 million in signing bonus money they say he owes the team after his unexpected retirement this summer.

* GOOD GUY: Jets LB Bryan Cox, who has been fined more than $140,000 by the NFL for various infractions during a nine-year career, was awarded the Kyle Clifton "Good Guy" Award by the club's administrative staff. The award is presented to the player who displays professionalism and courtesy to teammates, staff and coaches. Cox received the Dennis Byrd Award a year ago for leadership on the field.

* FINED: The NFL has fined Lions FS Ron Rice $5,000 for a hit on Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey last weekend. Rice was fined for "unnecessary roughness and for striking an opponent in the head with a forearm," NFL spokesman Dan Masonson said.

* SIGNED: The Panthers signed WR Patrick Jeffers to a four-year contract extension. Terms weren't disclosed. Jeffers, 26, has caught 56 passes for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns.