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Ireland Staying True To His Vision

Posted Mar 20, 2012

Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland has always been meticulous in everything he does, so bringing this franchise back to prominence is no different.

This is Ireland’s fifth year running the football operations in Miami and on the heels of signing former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, he decided it was time to open up a little to the South Florida media. He is well aware of the questions coming from the fan base in the second week of free agency, especially concerning the quarterback position, and adding a veteran like Garrard is something Ireland feels can only benefit incumbent Matt Moore.

“Where we are at this juncture, I’m happy where we are at the quarterback position,” he told the Herald. “You have to remember we’re not even halfway through the player acquisition process. We will continue to leave no stone unturned. We have a process in place that we’re following but we’re also being flexible. And that means when opportunities arise, we bring players in, we talk to them, we work them out, we visit to see where they’re at. And then we make decisions.

“I’m not naive to the fact we need more pieces. People think we’re blind to that but we’re not. We need to have another solid draft. But we’re not where we’re going to be in August.”

Garrard was told he would be part of a competition for the starting job with Moore and Ireland confirmed that he has spoken to Moore about that as well. That approach helped sell Garrard on signing without taking any other visits.

“I know that Mr. Ireland is going to do a lot of things,” Garrard said on a conference call with the South Florida media. “He’s still moving forward with the team, I am sure he’s not set with a number of positions. So I’ll wait and see what he has in store for the receiving corps, for all the different positions. I’m sure he’s not finished yet.”

Even though the Dolphins met with free agent quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, Ireland and Head Coach Joe Philbin never veered from their master plan. They had an agenda they went into free agency with and an idea of how they were going to address quarterback.

The franchise has such a rich and storied tradition that being able to attract quality free agents is something Ireland and the front office don’t view as a problem. There is a strong attractiveness to the team and to the South Florida area, and recent free agent signings like Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett, Garrard, Richard Marshall and Artis Hicks are proof of that.

“I absolutely think players and coaches want to be here,” Ireland told the Herald. “When we talk to people about the Dolphins, they still think highly of this franchise, its history, its direction. They have no problem coming here. And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they make other decisions. But it’s a two-way street. We make our decisions also.”

As for the release of veteran free safety Yeremiah Bell, the longest-tenured Dolphin, Ireland acknowledged that it was one of those difficult business moves general managers have to make in order to clear salary cap space. In the days and weeks leading up to free agency, Ireland had hoped to avoid having to let Bell go and said as much to Bell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

“When I spoke with Drew a couple of weeks ago, I had no intention of making this move,” said Ireland to the Herald. “But things change. Sometimes the allocation of resources makes it necessary to change direction and you make decisions that you previously didn’t’ think you’d make.”

When Ireland met personally with Bell last night to inform him of the move he made sure to tell him that if Bell could not find a suitable landing spot in free agency and Miami has not filled Bell’s strong safety position, Ireland would be amenable to signing him back to the roster.

In the meantime, Ireland, Philbin and the rest of the coaching staff and scouting department will continue to explore other free agent options and prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.
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