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Senior Bowl Is The Next Step Of The Offseason Process

Posted Jan 26, 2016

While the Dolphins are evaluating draft prospects in Mobile throughout the week, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier touch on a variety of team subjects.

MOBILE, Ala. — Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier were happy with what they saw on the first day of practice at the Senior Bowl, and afterward they discussed the state of the Dolphins.

“For us it’s just the next step in the process, the interviews, they were just on the field for one practice each,” Tannenbaum said. “To me it was very competitive. I think the week is off to a good start, but obviously it’s still pretty early.”

“On the personnel side,” Grier said, “as Mike said, it’s an opportunity for us to see them playing at a competitive level. It’s the not the combine where it’s shorts and T-shirts; this is football and you get to watch the players run and hit and do stuff that really pertains to what our sport needs.”

The Dolphins will be evaluating draft prospects in Mobile throughout the week, but it’s also been a busy time for the organization with the hiring of Adam Gase on Jan. 9 followed by the assembling of the coaching staff.

The coaching staff for 2016 will include nine coaches who were part of the staff last season, providing the Dolphins with a mix of old and new.

“We feel really good about the result,” Tannenbaum said. “We spent the better part of January working, Chris and I with Adam, and talked to (owner Stephen Ross) daily about where we are and we feel good about blending some continuity with some of the coaches we felt good about and then a lot of new blood as well. We’re excited about the staff, and the guys that were held over were decisions that were made by Adam and obviously he felt strongly about those guys.”

Grier then pointed out that the holdover coaches would provide some continuity and help with the transition.

Before the Dolphins totally focus on the draft will come the start of the league year March 9, which signals the start of free agency and the date all teams must be under the salary for 2016.

As is the case every year, that means important decisions ahead for the Dolphins, both in terms of restructuring contracts, releasing players for salary-cap considerations and trying to re-sign their own free agents.

The two headliners among the Dolphins free agents-to-be are running back Lamar Miller and defensive end Olivier Vernon.

"We drafted them, we know them,” Grier said. “We'd love to have them back. But the discussion is once the coaching staff evaluates and sees how they fit, but they're certainly players that we have great affection for and have done a great job for us, so we'll see what happens.”

Among the many other topics Tannenbaum and Grier discussed:

• The biggest areas of need on the team: “Right now we’re kind of early in the process with that,” Tannenbaum said. “The coaching staff just got assembled, we want to give them a good couple days to look at it and then we’re going to get together over the next couple of weeks, all the personnel people, the coaches and get in a room and say, hey, here’s where we are and here’s what’s we need and go from there. We’re a couple of weeks away from that.”

• Former interim head coach Dan Campbell leaving the team: “Obviously he had strong consideration to be our head coach and when that decision was made, Adam was in charge of the staff,” Tannenbaum said. “Him and Dan met and those conversations I would leave to Dan and to Adam. Then he had other opportunities and we just felt as an organization it was appropriate for him to explore those other opportunities.”

• The possibility of talking to agent Jimmy Sexton about restructuring the contract of Ndamukong Suh: “That’s certainly one of the levers we’re going to take a close look at. We haven’t made any decisions as it relates to strategic planning or salary cap, budget, things like that. We have designed and I think Dawn (Aponte) has done a really good job, when these contracts were constructing that we have a lot of flexibility. By the time we get to the first day of the league year, we should have plenty of room to address the needs that we have and certainly we’ll be looking at Suh’s contract.”

• The possible return of defensive end Dion Jordan: Tannenbaum indicated that no decision on Jordan will be made until Jordan is reinstated by the league. Jordan was suspended for one year April 28 last year meaning he couldn’t be reinstated before that date.

• Rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker and any concerns about his foot: "Yeah, I think we feel really good about that,” Tannenbaum said. “I think we got a good result. I think the way he played towards the end, he was obviously in our opinion an ascending player and didn't miss practice, knock on wood, I think his future is bright, his love of football is there and hopefully that's in the past."

• Finally, Grier discussed what he’s seen from Gase in his first few weeks on the job: “You can feel the energy. That's what a lot of guys have come through, to say hello to him and his staff, guys that have been in the building, it's just a different vibe. I think you guys will see it when the team is there. I think that's the big thing, the vibe. The players are excited. As soon as they meet him, he's got an energetic personality and he's very competitive. The players sense that right away and they say, 'This is one of our guys.' I think his ability to relate to the players is an important thing."

Tannenbaum then added: "Two other things come to mind. He's a very authentic person. And to go back to the previous question, nine coaches staying, it would be easy to come in and say, 'Hey, this team was 6-10, they're all gone.’ I thought he was very methodical. I thought he was very fair, very critical, and I think we got a great result. Obviously, we'll see how the season plays out. I think the fact that we kept nine coaches was the right decision, not the easy one, and I think it was a tribute to his process that he went through."
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