Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland receives contract extension

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has received a contract extension from team owner Stephen Ross, according to reports.

Ireland, who like head coach Tony Sparano was entering the final season of his four-year deal from 2008, has similarly received a two-year contract extension through 2013.

The move comes in the same month the team gave Sparano a two-year extension after Ireland and Ross actively tried and failed to land a big-name replacement for the head coach.

Ireland, who came over from the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 upon the arrival of executive vice president Bill Parcells in Miami, took over more control over personnel this past season when Parcells moved into a consultant-type role.

The Dolphins struggled to their second straight 7-9 season in 2010, which had owner Ross looking to make a splash with a coaching change.

In a controversial head coaching search that had the Dolphins reaching out to Bill Cowher and flying cross-country to speak with Stanford's Jim Harbaugh all while Sparano remained in limbo, the Dolphins eventually settled on retaining Sparano. (Translation: everyone else rejected them.)


I certainly can't say I'm happy with this move, as I feel Ireland has done a worse job in his role than Sparano did in his and I was particularly bothered by how Ireland aligned himself with Ross and threw Sparano under the bus this month in an attempt to alleviate blame and save his own job.

It's also hard to know just how good of a job Ireland has done in his role, because he never really had official "final say" until Bill Parcells eased out of the job in 2010 and we have no way of knowing what role he played in the good moves or the bad.

While the current regime have obviously improved since their 1-15 season in 2007 with quality additions via free agency, trade, and the draft, they have also had their share of significant gaffes.

This is the front office that drafted guard Shawn Murphy in the fourth round in 2008 and "quarterback" Pat White in the second round, wide receiver Patrick Turner in the third round, and tight end John Nalbone in the fifth round in 2009.

It's also the same front office that signed linebacker Reggie Torbor to a $14 million contract, wide receiver Ernest Wilford to a $13 million contract, guard Justin Smiley to a $25 million contract, safety Gibril Wilson to a $27.5 million contract, Jake Grove to a $29 million contract, and so on.

(Obviously, players like Grove and Smiley weren't necessarily bad for the Dolphins' but it's safe to say they didn't stick around long enough to really earn the money that was paid to them while they were here.)

Without knowing if Ireland had an active role in any of these moves or if he was against them, there is no way of telling just how capable he is of being a good NFL general manager.

But even with the two-year extensions to Ireland and Sparano, there is no guarantee they'll be around long enough to turn things around. Despite Ross' "financial apologies," the pressure is on Ireland and Sparano to win in 2011.

If they do not, don't doubt for a second that Ross will pull the plug on this regime and completely overhaul the franchise's personnel.

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