Jeff Ireland is calling various media outlets today to share his viewpoint of what's going on with the Dolphins since the start of free agency and going forward.
About the idea that no one wants to come to play for the Dolphins -- a thread that has even hit national media following Miami's inability to land Jim Harbaugh, Jeff Fisher and Peyton Manning, among others:
"I absolutely think players and coaches want to be here," he said. "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."
Ireland declined to be specific regarding the reasons Matt Flynn, Alex Smith and Peyton Manning did not come to the organization. Regarding everyone except Manning, he said, "Most of the time these decisions are about money."
As I have written previously, the Dolphins' pursuit of Flynn came with a caveat: They wanted him at their price. The contract Miami offered Flynn was not as lucrative as the one offered by Seattle. I have also learned the Dolphins stopped their chase of Smith when his price was above what they were prepared to pay.
Ireland declined to give details of any negotiation except to say he "would not be reckless" in making a move that could potentially affect the club's future. Ireland called the Dolphins a "storied franchise," and pointed to the club's commitment to return to that better past. He said owner Stephen Ross is spending over $1 million in updating the club's Davie, Florida training facility to make it more comfortable and football friendly for players.
The club is redoing the locker room among other places.
On the all-important quarterback issue, it seems clear the Dolphins are done (for now) chasing veteran options. Ireland confirmed what newly signed quarterback David Garrard said earlier: Garrard and Matt Moore will compete for the starting job in 2012.
There will be no further chase for Smith or any of the current free agent options on the market. Ireland, however, did not rule out selecting a quarterback in the coming draft.
"There's a chance of that," he said. "Let it run its course."
But in the meantime, Ireland said he is thrilled with the idea of adding Garrard.
"I've been chasing this guy since last year," Ireland said. "He's athletic, he has arm talent, he's got veteran experience, he brings great leadership. We went with a veteran at the position and we talked to Matt and he understands we need to play better at quarterback to get over the hump. So they'll compete and we'll see what happens."
As a result, Ireland seems content for the time being. But if an opportunity comes open, he would study or even chase it.
"Where we are at this juncture, I'm happy where we are at the quarterback position," he said. "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."
One player the Dolphins will not be pursuing is Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Ireland declined to discuss the topic other than to say, "he is a player under contract to another team so I can't talk about him."
But multiple highly placed club sources have told The Herald today there will be no pursuit of the former University of Florida star. The reasons for this is the Dolphins are unwilling to revamp their offense to suit Tebow and highlight his obvious strengths. The Dolphins intended, instead, to run a West Coast offense in 2012.
The Dolphins traded receiver Brandon Marshall the first day of free agency. Ireland was vague as to the reasons for that trade except to say, "There was not one singular event or singular incident that made us" make the trade.
Marshall was involved in an alleged bar fight in New York the night before Marshall was traded.
Ireland said the trade was made after discussions and in agreement with coach Joe Philbin, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and yes, owner Stephen Ross. "We all felt it was in the best interest of the team," Ireland said.
The general manager also said there is no resentment by either party on the matter. "Brandon came by camp yesterday and we sat for a while and before he left we gave each other a hug," Ireland said. "There's no hard feelings there."
The Dolphins hope Yeremiah Bell has no hard feelings because on Monday night when Ireland spoke to the strong safety to him him he was being cut, he added that if he found no suitable takers in free agency and the Dolphins had still not filled the strong safety position, the club would be open to taking Bell back. Despite this, Ireland confirmed that for salary cap reasons the Dolphins did not offer to give Bell a pay cut. The club saved the full $4.3 million in salary Bell was to count against the cap.
Ireland is aware that his cutting of Bell ran counter to every indication he gave to the media publicly and to agent Drew Rosenhaus privately. "When I spoke with Drew a couple of weeks ago, I had no intention of making this move," he said. "But things change. Sometimes the allocation of resources makes it necessary to change direction and you make decision that you previously didn't think you'd make."
Ireland called me just after I returned home from the club's training facility. Outside the facility, approximately 20-30 people were gathered across the street protesting the job Ireland has been doing and calling for his ouster.
"I've heard they're out there," Ireland said. "But I haven't seen them. I don't have a window that gives me a view of them. And we've been pretty busy around here to look anyway."