- Ireland played a part in Miami landing former CFL standout Cameron Wake, getting him to the Dolphins when a half dozen NFL teams were trying to lure the three-time Pro Bowler. Bill Parcells was the executive who convinced Wake to pick Miami over other suitors, but Ireland scouted him. Ireland also got Wake signed to a five-year, $33.2 million extension that will likely keep him in a Dolphins uniform until 2017.
- During Ireland’s tenure the Dolphins have maximized many late-round picks. Two starting safeties – Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons – were found in the fifth round. Charles Clay, Nolan Carroll and Jimmy Wilson, key contributors the past three seasons, were all late-round finds too.
- Ireland has had success finding undrafted gems like Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter, receivers Davone Bess, Marlon Moore, Anthony Armstrong and defensive end Derrick Shelby. All were undrafted rookie free agents who not only made the 53-man roster, but have put together respectable NFL careers.
- The Dolphins haven’t been embarrassed in a trade since Ireland took over. Miami usually gets fair value, and there have been instances - like this year’s swap of draft picks to move up to No.3 pick to select Dion Jordan – where the Dolphins have gotten lopsided value. Ireland also has a way of turning spare parts like quarterback Josh McCown, offensive lineman Ryan Cook, center Samson Satele, receivers Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess into commodities.
- Since 2008 the Dolphins have selected at least three multi-year starters in each draft class expect the latest one. The 2012 draft class featured Ryan Tannehill, Jonathan Martin, Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller as starters. The ‘13 draft class only featured one starter, and that was kicker Caleb Sturgis, one of the team’s nine draftees.
- The Dolphins have not drafted many proven, accomplished playmakers on offense during Ireland’s tenure. Since 2008 the Dolphins have selected five tailbacks, four receivers and four tight ends, and only Brian Hartline (back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons) and Charles Clay (13 touchdowns in 3 years) have had accomplished NFL seasons.
- The Dolphins haven’t found a winning quarterback yet. Chad Pennington, whom Ireland and company signed right before the 2008 season, was Miami’s last decent starter. At least two of the three quarterbacks drafted early – Chad Henne and Pat White – have turned into busts. And right now Tannehill, who has a 15-17 record, has a long way to go after producing a 81.7 passer rating in his second season. But Ireland did avoid trading for Kyle Orton and signing Matt Flynn.
- Trading for, then trading away Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall was a double whammy. The initial trade, and contact that allowed Miami to acquire Marshall from Denver violated two of Ireland core beliefs. The first was to avoid trading for a player that required a big contract. And Marshall’s troublesome past contradicted the team’s edict on avoiding complicated characters. Marshall’s production in Miami was high, but the Dolphins traded him to Chicago before the 2012 season for two third-round picks, which haven’t amounted to much (Michael Egnew, and a trade down that brought the Dolphins Dion Sims).
- Too many of the players selected in the first four rounds of recent drafts have turned into NFL busts. Phillip Merling, Chad Henne, Shawn Murphy, Pat White, Patrick Turner, A.J. Edds and Clyde Gates are all backups, if not all the league. And Daniel Thomas, Jonathan Martin, Michael Egnew, Lamar Miller, Jamar Taylor, Will Davis, Dallas Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Dion Sims might be right behind them.
- The Dolphins created a treasure chest of draft picked for 2013, but only one of the nine newcomers were major contributors in their rookie season. Dion Jordan, the team’s first-round pick, served as third down specialist. Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis barely played on special teams, much less defense. The offensive line was a disaster, but Dallas Thomas couldn’t sniff the field. Jelani Jenkins got off to a slow start. The only significant contributor was kicker Caleb Sturgis, who also had a rough patches.
1. There has been more misses than hits in free agency. Justin Smiley, Jake Grove, Reggie Torbor, Charlie Anderson, Ernest Wilford, Gibril Wilson, Eric Green have all wasted the franchise’s money. And even recent deals, like the ones Ireland gave Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett and Richard Marshall, weren’t fulfilled. So far the contracts Miami gave Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler seem like bad deals. And that doesn’t even include overpaying on extensions to Reshad Jones and Koa Misi.
2. The Dolphins have produced one winning record, one AFC East division crown, and one playoff appearance during Ireland’s six-year reign. And that was in the organization’s first season, a year that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was sidelined by an ACL tear. Since then the Ireland led Dolphins have finished 7-9, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9 and 8-8. The franchise’s record with Ireland as GM is 46-50.
3. Ireland had a couple nightmarish public relations gaffes, putting the franchise under national scrutiny. There was his inappropriate line of questions to Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant before the 2010 draft. Ireland cursed at a fan who was verbally assaulting him at a Dolphins game in 2012. And during the 2013 bullying scandal Jonathan Martin’s agent claimed Ireland recommended Martin fight fellow teammate Richie Incognito to handle their issues.
4. The Dolphins have been struggling to assemble a decent offensive line since the 2009 season, which featured a 2,231 yard rushing attack which scored 22 rushing touchdowns. Since Ireland arrived this franchise has acquired Justin Smiley, Jake Grove, Joe Berger, Mark Columbo, Ryan Cook, Pat McQuistan, Nate Garner, Richie Incognito, Lance Louis, Tyson Clabo, Danny Watkins and David Arkin, and drafted Jake Long, Shawn Murphy, Donald Thomas, Andrew Gardner, John Jerry, Mike Pouncey, Jonathan Martin and Dallas Thomas. Yet, the offensive line remains unsettled, and last year’s unit allowed a franchise record 58 sacks.
5. The Dolphins have annually, and consistently overpaid players since Ireland’s arrival. Plenty of those signings can be blamed on Bill Parcells, but Miami usually ends up carrying a ton of dead money because of those bad contracts. Salary cap management has gotten better since Dawn Aponte took over the books, but more belt tightening is needed.