The Miami Dolphins have hired a new offensive coordinator and a new linebackers coach this offseason, but the top personnel job, the team's General Manager, that has yet to be filled. The team has already spoken with seven candidates, but, according to a Miami Herald report from Armando Salguero, the team could still be looking to add more potential replacements for Jeff Ireland.
Salguero spoke with a source close to the team, trying to dig into a CBS Sports report from Jason LaCanfora that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was heading to London and China this week on business, meaning the GM search could be on hold until he returns. Salguero got neither a confirmation nor a denial about that report, but was told that Ross has been present for every interview so far, is fully engaged in the process, and will be present for any future interviews.
The report from Salguero also stated that the Dolphins are doing a "deeper dive" into the candidates they have already interviewed, as well as into other potential candidates, to further vet the potential finalists for the position.
The Dolphins have interviewed Miami Assistant General Manager Brian Gaine, Arizona Cardinals Vice President of Player Personnel Jaoson Licht, Pittsburgh Steelers Director of Football Administration Omar Khan, Tennessee Titans Vice President of Player Personnel Lake Dawson, Cleveland Browns Director of Football Administration Ray Farmer, Detroit Lions Senior Personnel Executive Brian Xanders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey thus far.
LaCanfora describes the Dolphins interview process as "bizarre," pointing to Ross' business trip, the fact that the already interviewed candidates have not heard if they will make the finalist list or when a second round of interviews could be held, and the potential of the Dolphins using a three-tiered power structure, with the new GM, Head Coach Joe Philbin, and Executive Vice President of Football Administration all reporting directly to Ross. Apparently, according to LaCanfora, there is also concern that Ross, who is deemed an "absentee" owner because he spends time with his company in New York, would only be reachable when he is not at the team facility by going through Aponte, because Philbin and Aponte are close and, apparently, the new GM would not be able to pick up a phone and call the man to whom he would report.
The Dolphins are doing their due diligence in this situation. If the team had rushed to hire the first person they interviewed, or simply promoted Gaine without considering other sources, the media would trash the team for ignoring qualified candidates. Now that they are trying to interview candidates and find the right person for the position, they are getting trashed for taking too long.
Is it ideal that the Senior Bowl practices would begin without a General Manager in place for the Dolphins? Of course not. But, Gaine is working as the GM right now, the team has scouts at the practices, and all of the candidates will be there as well, working for their current teams. Whenever a new GM is hired, the Dolphins scouting staff will speak with him and give their reports. He will come with the first-hand knowledge he gains at the Senior Bowl. The situation is not ideal, but the team is not going to fall that far behind by not having a GM at the Senior Bowl.
(Basically, my thoughts on the Dolphins taking their time to get this hire correct mirrors my feelings on the offensive coordinator search in a post I made just five minutes before the Bill Lazor hire was announced. The team is taking the time to be methodical, and they are doing it for the right reasons.)
Salguero reports that the Dolphins are "acutely aware of the criticism of their GM hiring process." He further says that the Dolphins' answer to that criticism is, "The goal is to hire the right man, rather than a right now man." The team also points out that there is not a part of the process in which Ross has not, or will not, be involved. The idea that he is bored or out-of-touch is not accurate, according to Salguero.
Just wait out this process. Nothing any of us say will change how the Dolphins are trying to do this GM search, and nothing says they have to have the GM in place today. Perhaps they want to make another run at Tom Gamble of the Philadelphia Eagles or Scot McCloughan from the Seattle Seahwaks, both of whom turned down requests for interview from the Dolphins this year. Maybe the Dolphins like some of the candidates, but have not fallen in love with any of them, so they are looking for someone else. Perhaps Ross has been told that they have to talk to someone else from one of the Playoff teams, so they have had to wait. There are so many reasons why the Dolphins could be still looking for a new candidate, or waiting to announce their finalists, that anything coming from anyone at this point is barely more than speculation.
The Dolphins want to hire the right guy. We, as fans, should be happy that they are being thorough and doing everything they can to make that happen.