Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is considering sweeping changes with the team after another middling season, league sources said, though general manager Chris Grier is expected to survive any potential purge.
Both Mike Tannenbaum, who heads the team's personnel department, and coach Adam Gase are in jeopardy of being let go, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, with Ross contemplating their futures but as of yet not set on his plans for 2019. Ross has indicated to associates at various points throughout this season his belief that change may be necessary and, with the Dolphins all but eliminated from the playoffs, he is expected to make at least one significant change to the structure of the organization. However, he has been known to vacillate throughout the season depending on whom he is conferring with.
Grier is a long-time executive there and a holdover from previous regimes who, league sources said, Ross is inclined to keep within the personnel ranks. He carries the GM title, but does not have ultimate authority over football decisions, as Gase and Tannenbaum have roster control there. The Dolphins are expected to start any executive search with Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, who is highly regarded, has previous experience working for the Dolphins and is ready to interview for GM jobs after turning down numerous inquiries in recent years.
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Gase and Tannenbaum are concluding their third season together, though Tannenbaum preceded him in Miami. Ross has resisted essentially cleaning house when making changes in the organization, generally keeping a coach or chief personnel executive from a prior regime when bringing in someone new. That could still be the case this time around, and, with this shaping up as a year with considerable head coaching openings and a dearth of top candidates, Gase would be preferable to many of those interviewing for general manager jobs (Eagles personnel executive Joe Douglas, who is atop many interview list for GMs, is among those very high on Gase, sources said).
Gase has had to coach much of his three years without quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose career has been stunted by repeated injuries. The Patriots have continued to dominate the AFC East in that time, though Miami did reach the postseason in 2016, Gase's first season as an NFL head coach. The Dolphins could finish with another winning season in 2018, as they currently stand 7-7. No coach has lasted four seasons since Ross assumed control of the franchise before the 2010 season, and he has yet to hire an experienced former NFL head coach with a proven track record to this point, something some of his associates believe will be his priority in his next search, whenever that occurs.
Ross has attempted to lure Jim Harbaugh, brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, and Jeff Fisher in the past, but lost out on both rigorous pursuits. John Harbaugh is considered the most in-demand head coach potentially on the 2019 market, should his tenure with the Ravens draw to a close. However, the Ravens issued a statement on Friday declaring their intent to bring back Harbaugh for the 2019 season and extend him beyond that.