Despite an effort by former Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells to ease his way out of Miami in order to help G.M. Jeff Ireland stick around after Parcells makes his final exit, which as of a week ago was regarded as imminent, absent a change of heart from the guy who changes more hearts than Norman Shumway (even Dennis Miller thinks that one is way too freaking obscure), talk persists in league circles that Ireland could be gone as soon as the end of the 2010 season.
Sure, Ireland’s contract recently was revised to give him the power and authority that he was supposed to have from the moment he made the leap from the Cowboys, given the rules regarding front-office moves from one team to another. But unless Ireland received an extension as well, he has no more job security than he previously possessed.
So if owner Stephen Ross, who didn’t hire Ireland, wants to bring in long-time colleague Carl Peterson after the 2010 season ends, Ross needs only to be willing to pay Ireland not to work for the team next year. The fact that Ireland’s new direct-reporting relationship to Ross essentially prevents the arrival of a guy like Peterson as the liaison between G.M. and owner makes Ireland’s ice even thinner; instead of a transition period with Peterson evaluating Ireland before deciding what to do over the long term, Ireland could simply be dumped when Peterson is hired.
Then there’s the fact that a disconnect often arises between the terms of a contract and reality. If Ross initially brings in Peterson as a “consultant” who also reports directly to the owner and the two of them are hanging out in Ross’ office all day and going to lunch together every day, nothing in Ireland’s contract will save him from being as a practical matter neutered.
Much of the outcome could depend on the team’s performance over the next 12 games. If the Fins reverse a sluggish start that featured consecutive home losses to the Jets and Patriots, Ross could have no choice but to keep Ireland around. If they don’t, it’ll be easy for Ross to justify moving on, especially in light of the team’s so-so draft record under Ireland, the embarrassing Dez Bryant situation, and the presence of multiple “thugs and hoodlums” on the roster, which may not have been a big deal for Ross at the time the arrests happened but which could suddenly become a major issue when trying to justify to the fan base a decision to make a fresh start.