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Miami Dolphins extend GM Jeff Ireland's contract, and why it's a good move

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Earlier this offseason, after that week long head coach saga, the Miami Dolphins awarded Tony Sparano a two year contract extension through the 2013 season. But general manager Jeff Ireland, who was on that cross-country plane ride with owner Stephen Ross to meet with Jim Harbaugh in California, still had a contract that expired after the 2011 season.

Not anymore.

The Dolphins announced on Saturday that they have given Ireland a multi-year contract extension. Terms of the deal were not released. But multiple reports claim that Ireland's contract now runs through at least the 2013 season.

In a statement released by the team, Stephen Ross was complimentary of his GM.

"The decision to extend Jeff’s contract as our General Manager was an easy one. The young talent that Jeff has assembled during his three years with the Dolphins has made a profound impact on our franchise’s recovery from the 1-15 season of 2007," says Ross. "Jeff has my full support moving forward as we pursue our goals to build the best and brightest front office in the National Football League and ultimately to win a Super Bowl Championship for all of South Florida and Dolphin fans around the world."

While we can discuss Ireland's talent evaluation skills and both the hits and misses that the Dolphins have had in the draft and free agency since Ireland has been in Miami, this extension makes a lot of sense from a stability standpoint.

First of all, extending both the head coach and general manager will give the Dolphins an opportunity to lure free agents - once a new CBA is signed and free agency begins, of course. After all, no free agent worth a crap would come to a team where the entire regime is playing on their final contract year.

Players want two things when they are free agents - money and stability. Giving an extension to both Ireland and Sparano at least gives the impression that the Dolphins are a stable organization.

More importantly, though, the contract extensions given to both Ireland and Sparano should provide them both with enough job security to seriously consider drafting a first round quarterback. It takes time to develop a rookie quarterback. While I don't think that this regime will survive the season if the team doesn't at least show some improvement, I do believe that they will receive the benefit of the doubt if they choose to draft and develop a rookie quarterback in the first round.

Just keep in mind that owner Stephen Ross is a very rich man who badly wants to win. So no contract extension will save either of these guys if the Dolphins struggle in 2011.