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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on Thursday night made clear he is looking for a traditional general manager with full power to pick his own players -- but not his own coach.
Ross' statement ended speculation the Dolphins might hire a general manager with limited power who would work under a "football czar."
But Ross said the new GM -- who will report directly to the owner -- would not be able to bring in a new head coach to replace Joe Philbin, a condition that could deter some top candidates.
"Regardless of reporting structure, the relationship between the general manager and coach Philbin must be one of trust, respect, and collaboration, and this will be an area we will look closely at during the process," Ross said.
The interview process to replace Jeff Ireland will begin today. Ross has enlisted former Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson, a longtime friend and business associate, to help with the interview process.
Ross said Peterson, 70, will advise him on the search but will not have a role with the team after the new GM is hired.
In the 1980s, Peterson was general manager of the USFL's Philadelphia Stars, a team owned by Ross.
"Carl and I have had a business relationship for almost 30 years dating back to the USFL and I have tremendous respect for his experience and judgment on team building and football operations," Ross said.
Peterson said in a statement he's confident Ross will hire someone "with a proven track record in talent evaluation."
New GM candidates expected to interview emerged Thursday, according to media reports. They are:
- Lake Dawson, 42, Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel and a former wide receiver with Kansas City.
- Lionel Vital, 50, Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel. He played in the CFL and briefly with the Washington Redskins.
- Omar Khan, 36, Pittsburgh Steelers director of football administration.
- Jason Licht, 42, Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel. He was an entry-level assistant with the Dolphins in 1995-96.
- Ray Farmer, 39, assistant GM for the Cleveland Browns and a former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker.
The Dolphins were reported to be interested in Tom Gamble, the Eagles' vice president of player personnel, but apparently had not reached out to him yet.
Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine also is expected to be interviewed.
Ross said the team would formally announce candidates once interviews are finalized.
After Farmer spoke with Dolphins officials on Thursday, he told John Wooten -- chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that advocates for minority candidates -- he was confused about how the front office would be set up, according to the National Football Post.
Ross' public statement might have been in part to clear up possible misconceptions.
There had been speculation that Dawn Aponte, Miami's executive vice president of football administration, could be promoted to head of football operations, a position Bill Parcells held with the Dolphins.
Aponte was in the running for an executive position with the NFL but has withdrawn her name, according to CBS Sports.
She reportedly won a power struggle with Ireland and will likely continue to have a prominent role running the team's salary cap. She also advises Philbin on media relations.
Ross said the next general manager "must have a passion for the game and demonstrated player evaluation expertise. They will need to be a person who is a collaborative team player that puts the organization first. This individual also must be a person with integrity who is open-minded and creative."
He said the Dolphins also are continuing their search for an offensive coordinator to replace Mike Sherman, who was fired Monday.
"At the end of this process, we will be a stronger organization with people working together to build a championship team," Ross said.
Peterson was considered a potential candidate for either general manager or head of football operations. He was with the Chiefs for almost two decades as GM and then president.
Peterson and Ross collaborated on FanVision, a handheld video device that was briefly used in NFL stadiums several years ago but didn't catch on and is no longer available.
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