Dolphins hire Dennis Hickey as GM

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In their fitful, laborious search for a general manager, the Miami Dolphins finally found someone to say yes: Dennis Hickey.

The longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive accepted the job Sunday, ending a search that lasted nearly three weeks.

"Miami is a great franchise with a historic tradition and passionate fans. The opportunity to work with [owner] Stephen Ross, [coach] Joe Philbin and the entire Dolphins organization to build a team that wins on a consistent basis is exciting," Hickey said in a statement. "The Dolphins certainly have talented players and I am eager to hit the ground running with our personnel and coaching staffs. We will all work together to construct a team that will make our organization and fans proud."

Hickey's hiring came after the Dolphins were rejected by several candidates. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson turned down job offers, and Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer withdrew from consideration Thursday.

Several others declined invitations to interview as a replacement for Jeff Ireland, whose six-year stint as general manager ended Jan. 7 when he and Ross agreed to part ways.

"I am excited that Dennis Hickey is our new general manager," Ross said in a statement. "When we started the search, I outlined qualities that I was looking for in this position. These included a collaborative team-first person who can work with Joe, demonstrated player evaluation expertise, and someone who is open-minded and creative. Dennis fit all of these criteria and I'm looking forward to having him get started."

Miami missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year in 2013, losing its last two games in disappointing fashion en route to an 8-8 finish under second-year coach Philbin.

The Dolphins' season also was mired by the bullying scandal involving offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

Hickey has been with the Buccaneers for 18 seasons, including the past three as director of player personnel. He was their director of college scouting for six years.

He was not interviewed for Tampa Bay's GM job when it became open after this season. The Bucs won four division titles and one Super Bowl championship during his time with them, but went 28-52 over the past five years and had spotty draft results during that span.

Hickey was among eight candidates interviewed, with Ross aide Matt Higgins and executive vice president of football administration Dawn Aponte helping the owner with the screening process. The other finalist was Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine, who worked under Ireland.

Some candidates and potential candidates expressed concern about the Dolphins' power structure, including the role of Aponte, who clashed with Ireland. Ross has said the new GM will report to him and will have autonomy in building the roster.

Dawson turned down the job shortly before Hickey accepted.

"I felt Stephen is a great owner, passionate and wants to win, but the details of the offer didn't align with my vision," Dawson said in a statement. "I turned it down because it wasn't an ideal fit for my family and me."

So Ross turned to Hickey, who interviewed for the first time 10 days into the search. His task will be to upgrade the roster for coach Philbin after Miami collapsed late in the season to blow a playoff berth.

The Dolphins haven't been above .500 since 2008, the longest such stretch in franchise history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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