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Jeff Ireland out: Potential new General Manager candidates for Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins and General Manager Jeff Ireland parted ways yesterday, meaning the team will be searching for a new top personnel executive. Who could be on the radar?

Scott Pioli, here as the GM and Team Presdient for the Kansas City Chiefs, could be in the running for the Miami Dolphins' vacant GM position.
Scott Pioli, here as the GM and Team Presdient for the Kansas City Chiefs, could be in the running for the Miami Dolphins' vacant GM position.

The Miami Dolphins are beginning their search for a new General Manager after agreeing to part ways with Jeff Ireland yesterday (read: fired Ireland, but made it appear as a mutual agreement). Who could be on the Dolphins radar to fill their top personnel position?

Some potential candidates have already started to be identified:

  • Dawn Aponte, Executive Vice President of Football Administration, Miami Dolphins - Currently the salary cap manager for the Dolphins, Aponte is seen around the league as the most likely candidate to be the first female General Manager in the league. She's also said to be inconsideration for the NFL's vacant Vice President of Football Operations position. Aponte has been in the NFL for 23 years, the last four with the Dolphins. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Aponte had spent time with the Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets, and the league office.

  • Brian Gaine, Assistant General Manager, Miami Dolphins - Gaine just completed his sixth year with the Dolphins, and his fifteenth in the league. He was promoted to Assistant General Manager for the Dolphins in 2012 after being the Director of Pro Scouting. He was the Dallas Cowboys' Assistant Director of Pro Scouting from 2005-2007, and was in the New York Jets front office from 1999 to 2004. Gaine played tight end at the University of Maine and spent the 1996 season on the Jets' practice squad, the 1997 season with the New York Giants' practice squad, and the 1998 offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • Tom Gamble, Vice President of Player Personnel, Philadelphia Eagles - National Football Post has named Gamble as one of the top targets for the Dolphins. Bleeding Green Nation writes, "The loss of Gamble would be disappointing news for the Eagles front office, but it's no surprise to see teams interested in him. He was part of the organization that helped turn the San Francisco 49ers back into a talented team. Along with [Eagles GM Howie] Roseman, Gamble was likely responsible for the Eagles' successful 2013 offseason moves, which included some quality free agent signings (Connor Barwin, Donnie Jones, Bradley Fletcher, etc.) and a promising draft class (Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Bennie Logan, etc.)." Gamble has done just about everything you could want from a General Manager. He has served as a pro and college scout, worked contract negotitations, managed salary caps, and actually was an assistant coach with the New York Jets for two years. When he left the 49ers, part of the reason he went to the Eagles, where his dad, Harry, was the team president and general manager at one time, bevause of ill-health of his father. He may not be willing to leave Philadelphia after being there for just one year, even though the Dolphins' position is a promotion and is seen as a very attractive job.

  • Alonzo Highsmith, Senior Personnel Executive, Green Bay Packers - Highsmith, the former University of Miami running back and six-year NFL player, started with the Packers as a college scout in 1999 and was named Senior Peronnel Executive in 2012. His ties to the Miami area, along with a son currently playing safety for the Hurricanes, and his ties to former Green Bay offensive coordinator and current Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin could lead to the Dolphins making Highsmith their next GM.

  • Omar Kahn, Director of Football & Business Administration, Pittsburgh Steelers - Kahn began his NFL career in football operations with the New Orleans Saints, first as a scouting/personnel intern in 1997 and working his way up through their front office over the next few years. In 2001, the Pittsburgh Steelers hired him as their Football Administration Coordinator, promoting him into his current Director of Football and Business Administration position in 2011.

  • Carl Peterson, former General Manager, Team President, CEO, Kansas City Chiefs - Peterson is already a business partner with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and one of his closest NFL advisors. He's been rumored to be in position to take over as the team's "football czar" for several years now, and, with Ireland out, he could move into the position and serve as the GM as well. He led the Chiefs front office for 20 years, with the team generating a 176-141-1 record over that time, with nine playoff appearances, after having only one postseason appearance in the 18 years prior to Peterson's arrival. Prior to his tenure with the Chiefs, Peterson worked in the Philadelphia Eagles' front office, as well as being the General Manager and President of the USFL's Philadelphia Stars.

  • Scott Pioli, former General Manager, Kansas City Chiefs - One of the biggest names to be associated with the Dolphins' vacancy is Pioli, who is currently working for NBC Sports. He was the Chiefs GM from 2009-2012 after having worked his way from Assistant Director of Player Personnel to Director of Player Personnel to Vice President of Player Personnel with the New England Patriots from 2000-2008. He's also spent time in the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and New York Jets organizations. He has received glowing reviews from Bill Belichick on his time with the Patriots, but was not as successful as expected with the Chiefs, despite six Pro Bowl selections in 2012 on a 2-14 team. Pioli's main issues were at the quarterback position, where he acquired Patriots backup Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, neither of whom panned out as NFL starters.

  • Bill Polian, former General Manager and Team President, Indianapolis Colts - Another big name target who would be leaving a TV position, in this case with ESPN, to return to a front office, Polian was hired by the Indianapolis Colts in 1997 as the Team President and General Manager. With the first overall pick in the Draft the next year, he selected Peyton Manning. After giving up GM powers in 2009, Polian was fired by the Colts in 2012 after the team went 2-14 when Manning was injured for the season. Prior to joining the Colts, Polian served as the Carolina Panthers' general mananer and the Buffalo Bills GM and Pro Personnel Director. He's also spent time in the Chicago Blitz, Montreal Alouettes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Kansas City Chiefs front offices in various roles from scout up to personnel director.

  • Eliot Wolf, Director of Pro Personnel, Green Bay Packers - Wolf grew up in the Packers organization, starting to word film sessions and draft preparation at age 10 for his father, Ron, who was the Packers General Manager. Unofficially, he has been with the Packers for 21 years, offciailly a member of their organization for the last 10. He's worked ever Packers draft since 1993, and is the youngest Director of Pro Personnel in the NFL. He was originally hired as a pro personnel assistant by Mike Sherman, when the Dolphins former offensive coordinator was the Green Bay General Manager and Head Coach. He's also served as the Packers' Assistant Director of Pro Personnel and Assistant Director of Player Personnel.

What do you think happens with the Dolphins' GM position now that Ireland is out?

[UPDATE:] I had it pointed out that I missed one potential candidate who should have been on this list:

Scot McCloughan, Senior Personnel Executive, Seattle Seahawks - McCloughan joined the Seahawks in 2010 as their Senior Personnel Executive after five years with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was the Vice President of Football Operations, along with being General Manager for two years. He joined the 49ers in 2005 after having been the Seahawks' Director if College Scouting from 2000 to his move in 2005. McCloughan worked for five seasons with the Green Bay Packers as a regional scout before his first stint with the Seahawks.