Farmer, who was viewed by many as a favorite throughout the process, is staying with the Browns. The spotty track record of owner Stephen Ross, some of the preexisting relationships there, issues with the structure of the front office and the power executive vice president Dawn Aponte has gained have all given pause to various candidates for the job.
According to sources, Ross repeatedly called one candidate by his incorrect first name throughout much of one interview (not Farmer), even when the others in the room were calling him by his correct name. Ross seemed disengaged to some candidates, checking emails, etc., sources said. Ross also recently left the country to visit London with the process ongoing, and then was heading to China when finalists were being named (the winter storm that pounded New York this week altered some of his plans).
With its GM prospects dwindling, the Dolphins have now reached back out to Lake Dawson, the Titans' VP of player personnel, to say they have reconsidered him as a finalist and asked for a second interview, a league source said.
Miami has long considered assistant GM Brian Gaine for the job, sources said, and he remains an internal candidate. Tampa Bay executive Dennis Hickey was also a finalist, though it is unclear if he will retain his position in Tampa with that front office restructuring under new GM Jason Licht (who was also a candidate in Miami).
John Wooten, of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which strives for diversity in the NFL, said he called Farmer upon hearing he had opted to stay with the Browns to urge him to strongly consider taking the second interview.
"It is our recommendation that Ray goes back to interview," Wooten said. "The only way you can resolve any reservations he might have with the position is to meet with those individuals and be as direct as possible."
Wooten said he was unsure if his recommendation would change Farmer's stance.