Three days after the Miami Dolphins and Jeff Ireland mutually agreed to part ways, the team interviewed three possible successors for the General Manager position today.
Dolphins Assistant General Manager Brian Gaine, Pittsburgh Steelers Director of Football and Business Administration Omar Khan and Jason Licht, Arizona Cardinals Vice President of Player Personnel, were the first to get an audience with owner Steve Ross. All three were given a preview of precisely what Ross is looking for in his next hire yesterday when he released an official statement addressing the search.
“The new General Manager will have autonomous responsibility for the 53-man roster and selecting players during the draft and will report to me,” Ross said. “First and foremost, this person must have a passion for the game and demonstrated player evaluation expertise. They will need to be a person who is a collaborative team player that puts the organization first. Regardless of reporting structure, the relationship between the General Manager and Coach (Joe) Philbin must be one of trust, respect, and collaboration, and this will be an area we will look closely at during the process. This individual also must be a person with integrity who is open-minded and creative.”
In terms of familiarity with the organization and with Ross personally, Gaine has the clear upper hand having spent the past six seasons in Miami’s front office. He just completed his second season in his current role, evaluating players on the professional and collegiate level and is widely recognized around the league as a top-notch talent evaluator. Prior to being promoted, Gaine directed the Dolphins’ scouting operations and played a key role in draft preparation.
Gaine came to Miami along with Ireland from the Dallas Cowboy, where he worked under former Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells from 2005-07. He was Dallas’ assistant director of pro scouting and prior to that he spent six years (1999-2004) in the New York Jets’ scouting department. That was a smooth transition for Gaine, who spent time on the Jets’ and New York Giants’ practice squads as a tight end after starring at the University of Maine from 1991-95.
Khan, 36, just completed his 16th season in the National Football League and 12th in Pittsburgh. This was his third year as the Steelers’ Director of Football and Business Administration and his specialty has been contract negotiations and salary cap management. He has been the team’s chief negotiator for the past three seasons and prior to that he was the football and business administration coordinator.
Before coming to Pittsburgh, the New Orleans native was with his hometown team the Saints in a number of different capacities. Khan caught on with the Super Bowl XLIV champions in 1997 right out of college at Tulane University, starting as a scouting/player intern. He was the Saints’ player personnel assistant from 1998-99 and interim player programs director in 1998 before serving as football operations/coaching assistant through the end of the 2000 season.
Licht actually began his NFL career in Miami with the Dolphins in 1995 where he was an assistant in the college and pro scouting departments. The following season he switched roles and became an offensive assistant/quality control coach for the team before leaving in 1997 to go to work for National Football Scouting.
One year after working for the college scouting service, Licht returned to the NFL as a member of the scouting staff for the Carolina Panthers. The Nebraska native then was hired by the New England Patriots in 1999 as a college scout and promoted to national scout in 2001 before being given the title of assistant director of player personnel in 2002.
From 2003-07, Licht worked for the Philadelphia Eagles and was their Vice President of Player Personnel the final two years before joining the Cardinals in 2008 as a personnel executive. He went back to New England from 2009-11 as the director of pro personnel and then returned to Arizona in 2012 as director of pro personnel, earning a promotion to his current title this past year. Licht has been to four Super Bowls with three different organizations (New England in 2001 and 2011, Philadelphia in 2004 and Arizona in 2008).