It appears that the Miami Dolphins have already selected a replacement for fired general manager Dennis Hickey.
Chris Grier, who has been with the franchise for 15 seasons — the last eight as the team’s director of college scouting — is expected to be named the Fins’ new GM. The Palm Beach Post has been told Grier is expected to be hired, but not until Monday.
WalterFootball.com, a site well-known for NFL Draft profiles and information, calls Grier one of the top talent evaluators in the NFL. Many, including those who write for WalterFootball.com, believe that Grier should’ve been promoted to the general manager position when Jeff Ireland was fired.
The Dolphins take the field for one last time on Sunday.
Then the action really begins.
As soon as the 5-10 Dolphins wrap up their disappointing season against New England, they will begin searching for a new coach — and possibly a general manager.
Mike Tannenbaum, Miami’s executive vice president of football operations, will lead the coaching search and he’ll be doing it without general manager Dennis Hickey, who appears to be on his way out.
Hickey has been with the Dolphins for two seasons but his standing with the organization was perilous as soon as Tannenbaum was hired this season as the team’s head executive.
Pro Football Talk reported Saturday that Hickey is likely out as GM and is expected to be replaced by Chris Grier, Miami’s director of college scouting.
Grier interviewed for the New York Jets general manager vacancy a year ago.
While replacing Hickey would be an internal shakeup, the organizational power lies with Tannenbaum.
There was mild speculation that owner Stephen Ross would completely blow up the team and consider replacing Tannenbaum.
But Ross made it clear in a letter to season ticket holders that Tannenbaum is leading the coaching search.
Here’s what else the Palm Beach Post has learned about the coaching search:
1. Dan Campbell is a real candidate: That might be hard to believe considering the Dolphins are 4-7 since he took over as interim coach.
But he’s viewed in the organization as a natural leader — and someone who had no time to prepare for the job but could vastly improve with experience and the right staff behind him.
Campbell is also seen as more than just a fiery, energy guy. His strategic knowledge is respected in the organization although it would be important to surround him with the right staff.
It might come down to other coaching vacancies and who gets snatched up elsewhere. So don’t rule out Campbell.
2. Sean Payton is not a likely candidate: While the Dolphins might be able to get him for a second-round pick, trading for Payton — and giving up draft picks – is not viewed as a realistic scenario within the organization.
3. Consider Chip Kelly a long shot: The Dolphins might give the recently-fired Eagles coach some consideration — and Kelly said recently he doesn’t need personnel control at his next stop — but his questionable roster moves in Philadelphia raised plenty of eyebrows in Miami.
Kelly’s issues getting along with his own players is also concern.
Kelly’s failure in Philadelphia could also make the Dolphins, and other NFL teams, gun shy about hiring a college coach this offseason.
The Dolphins will consider hiring a college coach, but it sounds like a coach with NFL experience is more likely — even if that experience is on the coordinator ranks.
Miami ideally would like someone with head coaching experience but the Dolphins are going to be vying with multiple other teams for a coach.
4. The Dolphins don’t believe they’re in rebuild mode: The Dolphins don’t believe they’re in rebuild mode: It seems like the Dolphins need to blow up the entire roster. There are questions in the secondary, at linebacker and on the offensive and defensive lines.
However, it’s not believed within the organization that a reboot is necessary. The Dolphins don’t think they’re far away from competing with the right coach and some roster tweaks.
They’re also hoping that owner Stephen Ross is a selling point and not a turn-off.
Ross struggled to land top GM candidates in 2013. But he was loyal to former coach Joe Philbin — possibly to a fault. He brought him back for a fourth season and gave him a contact extension before this season.
Expect the Dolphins to consider a lot of the top names that are out there, including Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Chicago offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley and possibly Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, who is likely to be fired.
UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. — who was previously head coach of the Falcons and Seahawks — is also a possibility.
Timing could be everything. Since the Dolphins will be competing with other teams, they may or may not wait around if a candidate they like goes deep in to the playoffs with his current team.
San Francisco defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, who was coach of the Jets under Mike Tannenbaum, is not considered a likely candidate despite his history with Tannenbaum.
In a letter to season ticket holders, Ross said that the search will “not be constrained by convention in our approach.” So there could be some more interesting names out there.
5. Tannenbaum is leading the charge: While there was some talk that Ross would consider blowing up the entire organization — including Tannenbaum — that’s not the case.
Ross made it clear in his letter that Tannenbaum, who is wrapping up his first season with Miami as the team’s head exec, is leading the coaching search.
The search committee will also include Matt Higgins — the CEO of Ross’ RSE Ventures and Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel.
It was reported elsewhere that Dawn Aponte, the Dolphins executive vice president of football administration, would also be part of the search committee. However, that is not accurate.
Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey was not even mentioned in Ross’ letter so his absence certainly raises questions about his future with the team.
6. The next coach doesn’t have to love Ryan Tannehill: The Dolphins really want Ryan Tannehill to exceed as the franchise quarterback.
But the team likes the flexibility they have with his contract and are only considering him a definite starter for 2016.
So it’s not a prerequisite that the next coach views Tannehill as the team’s future.
The Dolphins will likely see how it plays out with Tannehill in 2016 and then decide if they want to go in a different direction.
Tannehill’s $18 million salary in 2017 isn’t guaranteed except for injury.
However, $3.5 million of Tannehill’s 2017 salary becomes guaranteed this March.
Because of the remaining signing bonus cap hits, the Dolphins take a $10.4 million cap hit in 2017 if Tannehill is released.
If Tannehill struggles in 2016 and the team wants to move in a different direction, it’s conceivable they could decide it’s worth taking a $10.4 million hit rather than paying him $18 million.
It goes without saying that 2016 is a big year for Tannehill.
7. Other roster decisions undecided: There won’t be any decision on the future of running back Lamar Miller or defensive end Olivier Vernon until a new coach is in place.
They will both be free agents if they’re not re-signed by early March.
The same goes for the future of defensive end Cameron Wake and cornerback Brent Grimes, who are both under contract in 2016 but have non-guaranteed deals.
Wake, who will be 34 next season, is coming off an Achilles’ tear. If the Dolphins keep him at his current salary, they’d have a $9.8 million cap hit next season. If they release him, they’d save $8.4 million.
Grimes will be 33 next season. He has four interceptions this year but has struggled at times against top-tier receivers.
He’s a $9.5 million cap hit next year. The Dolphins would save $6.5 million by releasing him.
The Dolphins could try to renegotiate the deals if they want Wake or Grimes back but at a reduced rate.
Mike Tannenbaum will have a prominent voice in selecting the Dolphins’ new coach and Dan Campbell will be among the candidates in a search that will begin “immediately,” owner Stephen Ross said in a letter to season-ticket holders Friday.
Ross also didn’t sugarcoat this season, labeling it “disappointing” that the Dolphins are 5-10 entering Sunday’s finale against visiting New England.
Prominent on everyone’s mind, however, will be where the Dolphins go from here. Rebuilding will not mean Ross will clean house and part with Tannenbaum, who has spent about a year as the team’s executive vice president of football operations.
“We are going to conduct a thorough process led by Mike Tannenbaum to select our head coach that will not be constrained by convention in our approach,” Ross wrote. “This search will be thorough and we will take it wherever we need to go.”
Campbell took over as interim coach after Joe Philbin was fired amid a 1-3 start.
“I appreciate everything Dan Campbell has done this season and he has earned the opportunity to be considered for head coach,” Ross wrote. “We’ve also identified several promising candidates and will begin work immediately.”
The Dolphins are bound by the Rooney Rule to interview at least one minority candidate.
Ross thought he had assembled the right pieces entering this season, including the signing of free agent Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million contract. Despite the presence of the former All-Pro defensive tackle, Miami’s run defense actually took a step backward this season.
“I had high expectations headed into this year and the on-field results have been disappointing … for you, our staff, our coaches, our players and alumni players and certainly for me,” Ross said.
Ross went on to applaud fans’ “unwavering” support in selling out home games and traveling well.
“I look forward with optimism to more celebrations in the future together,” Ross wrote.
Injury update: The Dolphins listed linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) and center Mike Pouncey (foot/ankle) as doubtful for Sunday. Questionable are guard Jamil Douglas (ankle), tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf) and receiver Kenny Stills (thigh).
The Dolphins thought they were defusing a touchy situation Wednesday by having Ryan Tannehill and Brent Grimes address controversial comments made by Grimes’ wife about Tannehill.
The team wound up being the butt of jokes on Boston sports-talk radio, which replayed Grimes’ session with the media, during which teammates are heard making light of the situation by hooting and hollering.
One player is heard yelling, “Plead the fifth!” twice. (A portion of the interview, including that remark, can be heard here:
‘It is really a you-know-what show down in Miami and South Florida,” host Mike Petraglia said on Boston’s WEEI. “I really makes you appreciate what you have here, huh?”
The station posted a replay of Petraglia’s show online under the headline, “Dolphin dysfunction reminds New England fans of greatness of Patriot Way.”
As Grimes began to speak, one teammate joked, “I’m here so I won’t get fined,” as if egging on Grimes to resort to a tactic used by media-shy Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks at the Super Bowl. The interview initially was posted on the Dolphins’ site, then taken down.
That wasn’t the extent of the circus atmosphere. During Tannehill’s session with reporters, defensive end Damontre Moore, who like Tannehill attended Texas A&M, took a microphone from Sun-Sentinel reporter Chris Perkins and pretended to be a reporter himself, asking Tannehill if he felt “blessed and fortunate … to have a beautiful specimen like myself as a teammate.”
“No,” Tannehill responded.
One Dolphin fan e-mailed The Post from New England, writing, “Clearly this whole thing is a big joke to not an insignificant portion of players.
“Just absurd. Grossly unprofessional, childish, and I can’t put exactly into words what it sounded like other than a giant clown show full of players that don’t care about winning or hold themselves to a high standard.”
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday that cornerback Brent Grimes apologized for comments his wife, Miko, made on Twitter as the Dolphins tried to diffuse a potentially divisive situation in the locker room.
“He came up to me and apologized for the whole incident,” Tannehill said.
Tannehill said it’s “business as usual” between himself and Grimes moving forward.
Although Grimes delivered the apology, he told reporters he was unaware of specifics of what his wife had tweeted. Nonetheless, he tried to distance himself from those remarks.
“I’ve said this plenty of times: My wife is my wife,” Grimes said. “She talks, that’s what she says. We don’t speak the same thing. That’s her opinion.”
Grimes revealed that this week wasn’t the first time he extended an olive branch toward his quarterback.
“I told him this before,” Grimes said. “We had lunch early in the season. Somebody asked me this question and my wife’s opinions are her opinions. It’s not my opinions. I really don’t understand it — don’t understand why you ask me about my wife’s opinions. It’s not mine.”
Miko had tweeted that the locker room “hates” Tannehill and sharply criticized his ability.
“I feel I have support,” Tannehill said. “I know you can ask around and gather your own opinion but I feel confident about the support I have and the guys are behind me.”
Although the tweets raise questions of whether Brent shares Miko’s opinions, Brent said that’s not the case.
“He’s our quarterback,” Grimes siad. “He does what he has to do, and that’s the guy we go out with every Sunday. And that’s my guy. That’s my teammate.”
The situation created a circus atmosphere in the locker room. As Tannehill spoke to reporters, defensive end Damontre Moore, who also attended Texas A&M, attempted to make light of the situation by taking a reporter’s microphone and asking the quarterback if he felt “blessed and fortunate … to have a beautiful specimen like myself as a teammate?”
“No,” Tannehill said.
The Dolphins posted the video of Grimes’ interview session almost immediately, then took it off their site. As Grimes spoke, players near his locker loudly hooted and hollered, with one telling him he should plead the fifth.
Speaking of noise, Tannehill took issue with a question that this time, the “noise” wasn’t coming from outside the locker room, but inside, since it was from a teammate’s wife.
“It’s as outside as outside can get,” he said.
Grimes denied the incident has caused a distraction in the locker room.
“It creates a distraction to you guys,” Grimes told reporters. “You could see, I don’t have a problem in the locker room, so if it’s a distraction to you guys, if that’s your perception, that doesn’t mean your perception is the reality.”
But it is a distraction in the locker room, Tannehill said.
“Honestly, at this point, you know, I’ve heard what she said and I don’t really want to give it the time of day,” Tannehill said. “It doesn’t affect what I think about myself, the way I go about my business and prepare to win games.
“So the saddest part about the whole thing is we have to answer questions about it and it’s becoming a distraction to myself and this organization, this team.”
There’s a misconception (well, a partial misconception) among both fans and foes of the Miami Dolphins — particularly their unbeaten 1972 team — that the old-time players and coaches root each year against current-day NFL teams equaling (or, God forbid, bettering) their 17-0 record.
“Go ask the Patriots how difficult it is to do it and how they feel about some little kid in Guatemala wearing those perfect 19-0 Super Bowl tees.”
In that same interview, when asked what would happen if Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were able to best the mark of the ’72 Fins this season, Morris responded by asking, “Do you know the second biggest canyon in the U.S.? No, because everyone only knows about the Grand Canyon. No one cares about the second to do anything.”
But perhaps the Dolphins legends are starting to mellow as time goes on.
The official Twitter account of legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula sent out this tweet during the Panthers game Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell says there’s no spat between cornerback Brent Grimes and quarterback Ryan Tannehill after Grimes’ wife, Miko, bashed Tannehill on social media.
But Campbell made one thing clear: He’s a Magic Johnson fan.
Miko Grimes went after Tannehill on a Twitter tirade Sunday night and then said she wanted three local reporters — including myself — to be raped by Johnson, an NBA Hall of Famer who was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1991.
“I think Magic Johnson is a hell of a player,” Campbell said Monday, trying to add some humor to an awkward situation.
Miko Grimes was criticizing reporters — which also included the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley and Armando Salguero — for being critical of her husband, but supporting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
All three reporters have written both positive and negative comments about Tannehill and Grimes this season, based on their performances.
None of the comments on my end have been personal in any way, or overly critical.
Campbell said he doesn’t believe you can discipline a player for his wife’s action.
He also confirmed that the team has had discussions about Miko Grimes’ repeated negative public comments about the team, but that it occurred before he was interim coach.
On Sunday night, Miko Grimes bashed Tannehill, who she’s been railing against all season.
Campbell said he would keep any discussion he had with Brent Grimes in-house, but that he doesn’t worry about anything that’s said by outsiders.
“I’m not concerned with those things,” Campbell said. “I’m concerned about the way our guys in our locker room just handle their own business with each other. I’m not worried about outside noise.
“This is not the first time to be honest with you as a player or coach that these things have happened. I know it’s quite a story but to me it’s about how our guys feel in the locker room. You can’t listen to all that stuff out there anyway. If you do, it’ll just bog you down.”
Campbell said he doesn’t believe there’s any issue between Grimes and Tannehill even though Miko criticized Tannehill’s practice performance — information she likely would have gotten from her husband.
“I’ve never sensed there’s been animosity or any type of disconnect between those two guys,” Campbell said. “That’s never been an issue. I still don’t believe it’s an issue.”
Campbell said players and wives don’t always agree with each other.
“Anybody is entitled to their own opinion,” Campbell said. “Sometimes my wife thinks different than I do. And she has that right.”
Grimes’ base salary is more than $8 million next year, but his contract is non-guaranteed.
He has had an up-and-down season. He has four interceptions but has also struggled against some top-tier receivers.
It’s unclear whether this could effect a potential 2016 return. The Dolphins may bring him back or decide to go in a different direction based on performance and cost alone.
Grimes will be 32 next season.
Miko Grimes was arrested while tailgating at a Dolphins game in September and charged with assaulting an officer. The chargers were later dropped.
That’s high enough to get a potential game-changing player — and the Dolphins could certainly use one of those.
So who could get the Dolphins get at No. 6?
Here’s a quick look at players who might be available.
1. QB Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch
Both players could go in the top five, or they could both be lower top 10 picks.
In CBS Sports’ latest mock drafts, Rob Rang has Lynch at No. 2 and Goff at No. 7.
Dane Brugler has Goff at No. 7 and Lynch at No. 10.
So would the Dolphins really consider drafting a quarterback if they like one and he’s available?
It could depend on who the Dolphins hire as coach.
Head exec Mike Tannenbaum likes Tannehill and would like to see him succeed. But if a new coach is convinced Goff or Lynch can turn the franchise around — and one of them is available — it’s certainly possible they’d go that route.
Lynch — 6-foot-6, 230 pounds out of Memphis — has size, mobility and a big arm but he’s raw.
Goff — 6-4, 210 out of Cal — is more polished and has strong pocket-passing skills but doesn’t have amazing arm strength.
The Dolphins have a lot of defensive needs, but it would be very interesting if one of these quarterbacks is available when the Dolphins make their pick.
Miami can feasibly get out of Tannehill’s contract after the 2016 season though they’d still have a $10 million cap hit in 2017 if he’s cut — and an $18 million cap hit that season if they keep him.
2. CB Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves III
Ramsey, out of Florida State, could easily be a top five pick so he might be out of the Dolphins’ range, even if they finish 5-11.
If Ramsey is there for the taking, he’s a 6-1, 202, physical lockdown corner who could excel from the start.
Miami’s future at cornerback in flux with Brent Grimes, 32, heading toward the end of his career. He’s also owed an $8 million base salary if he returns next season.
Drafting a stud cornerback would be ideal for the Dolphins, whether or not they bring back Grimes.
Hargreaves — 5-11, 199 out of the University of Florida — is quick and strong and is projected as a lower top 10 pick.
3. OLB Jaylon Smith or Myles Jack
There are a lot of good linebackers in this draft and Smith and Jack are at the top of the class.
Smith — 6-3, 240 out of Notre Dame — is athletic and makes a ton of plays, something the Dolphins desperately need.
Jack — 6-1, 245 out of UCLA — isn’t the biggest linebacker but he’s extremely athletic.
The Dolphins need a serious upgrade at linebacker.
4. DE Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner
Most mock drafts have Bosa — 6-5, 275 out of Ohio State — in the top five. So he could be gone when the Dolphins make their pick.
Buckner — 6-7, 290 — is being projected between No. 5 and No. 10.
Miami’s Cam Wake is going to be 34 next season and coming off an Achilles’ injury. He also has an $8 million base salary.
Olivier Vernon will be a free agent if the Dolphins don’t re-sign him by early March.
The last time the Dolphins had a top five pick, it was a disaster — they traded up to take defensive end Dion Jordan No. 3 overall in 2013.
Miami still has the rights to Jordan, who is serving a year-long drug suspension. While it’s possible they try to get something out of him, it’s hard to imagine he comes back or makes much of an impact.
5. OT Ronnie Stanley
Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil could potentially be the top pick in the draft, so as of now he seems like a long shot for the Dolphins.
But Stanley — 6-6, 315 out of Notre Dame — could be there for Miami.
Unless Miami decides it can’t pass on a franchise quarterback, the defense needs even more of an overhaul than the offense.
The Dolphins offensive line, however, is a perennial mess so they could consider going with a lineman early.
The Dolphins already have left tackle Branden Albert but could contemplate moving him inside if they drafted a top five left tackle.
Albert has also dealt with injuries and he’ll turn 32 next season.
Several of Douglas’ teammates came to console him. Offensive line coach John Benton gave words of wisdom.
“My fault,” Douglas said. “I should have been locked in on that play. Bad play by me.”
Sure, Douglas will take the blame. But it really just speaks to Miami’s offensive line woes, a problem the Dolphins can’t shake.
Douglas shouldn’t have even been in that situation. He never played center in high school or college and was selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft as a guard.
He began the season as the starting right guard but was eventually benched for Billy Turner.
Douglas had his first extensive action at center when starter Mike Pouncey was injured in a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, struggling with low snaps.
The Dolphins spent more than two seasons developing Sam Brenner, who was an adequate backup center. Yet when they finally needed him he was gone, signing with Denver after he spent weeks on and off Miami’s roster while the team tinkered with the bottom of the lineup.
With Pouncey out on Sunday because of a foot injury, Douglas started his first game at center. It’s a game he would love to forget.
“I feel for him,” Tannehill said. “I’ve been there. I’ve been that guy numerous times in my career.
“He’ll be a better player because of it.”
Pouncey, who made the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season, wasn’t the only missing starter on Sunday.
The Dolphins have been without right tackle Ja’Wuan James since he suffered a toe injury in a Week 8 loss to New England.
No matter who’s in the lineup, the offensive line continues to be a major problem for the Dolphins.
Tannehill had been sacked 38 times heading in to Sunday’s game, tied for fourth-most in the league.
He climbed up the chart after he was sacked six times by the Colts — a team that entered the game with just 25 sacks this season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL.
Tannehill has been sacked 183 times in his four NFL seasons, the most in the league in that span.
Give him credit for never missing a start despite the constant hits. He’s barely missed a snap and he didn’t miss any on Sunday after several hard hits.
“I’ll be all right,” he said with the slightest of grins. It’s a question he’s been asked so many times before.
The Dolphins have spent years trying to rebuild the line, signing left tackle Branden Albert to a 5-year $47 million deal before the 2014 season and selecting James in the first round of the 2014 draft.
But there’s still uncertainty at guard where starters Dallas Thomas and Turner have struggled. And the depth is suspect — a problem when the starters are rarely healthy at the same time.
So it all comes back to the quarterback.
Tannehill will be entering his fifth season next year and his upside is still debated.
The best teams and the best quarterbacks — New England and Tom Brady being the prime example — excel despite constant turnover on the offensive line.
The Dolphins and Tannehill aren’t in that position, so it’s impossible to fully evaluate Tannehill when he’s treated like a rag doll.
“I could care less about getting hit if we’re winning,” Tannehill said.
But, he added, “it’s not easy to win when the quarterback is getting hit so that’s something we want to fix and move on.”