62 days ago, Dennis Hickey was hired as the Miami Dolphins general manager. However, it wasn’t until after Ray Farmer and Nick Caserio declined the gig when Hickey was offered the job. Understandably so, the Dolphins’ fanbase was in an uproar that Hickey was the third, fourth or maybe even fifth choice for the job. Did the Dolphins luck out, though? Let’s take a look at what Hickey has done in the past two months.
In his introductory press conference, Hickey said that he prefers a collaborative effort between the GM and head coach. We saw what happened when former general manager Jeff Ireland picked players that Joe Philbin wasn’t comfortable with. Philbin didn’t play them or use them the way Ireland had envisioned. This obviously led to much frustration between to the two to the point where they stopped talking to each other in the middle of last season. Since then, Hickey and Philbin have been watching film together to identify players already on the roster that can help them along with players they may be able to bring in to help them out this coming season and beyond.
This has led the Dolphins to signing quite a few players in free agency. Unlike last year, though, they didn’t spend the first few days throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead, they made their splash with Branden Albert and Earl Mitchell before starting to get veteran players at a price that they considered a good value.
Before free agency began, Hickey was able to make a few key moves. First, he fired former assistant general manager Brian Gaine. While this might appear like a small move, it was Hickey making a statement. He could’ve kept Gaine on through the draft and Gaine could’ve offered some valuable insight. However, knowing that Gaine was a finalist for the position, Hickey knew there could be some division within the scouting department. This was Hickey telling the scouting department that he was now the man in charge and there would be no question about it. It was a good first move.
From there, Hickey worked carefully and locked up Brent Grimes to a multiyear deal that is very cap friendly. It also protects the Dolphins if Grimes starts to decline in a few years. This was a great move as Grimes was a lockdown corner last year and the Dolphins didn’t have to worry about the receiver lining up against him. Grimes should continue to play at a high level and will also be a nice veteran presence in the locker room. Hickey also made sure to sign Louis Delmas before free agency began. Delmas is a high-risk, high-reward type of player. He was signed to a one-year deal which means Delmas has to prove himself. If he stays healthy, the secondary got a big upgrade. If he doesn’t, the Dolphins feel very comfortable putting Jimmy Wilson in position to succeed.
As mentioned above, when free agency began Hickey immediately signed Albert and Mitchell. Albert will be the anchor of the offensive line and plays at a high level. Mitchell was signed to replace Paul Soliai and is considered to be on the verge of breaking out. Some have said that he will be an absolute monster in a 4-3 defense. While we know Albert will be a huge upgrade over last season, we will wait and see on Mitchell. Things then became quiet before Hickey re-signed Randy Starks. Hickey had let Starks test the market, but upon seeing there wasn’t much for him, Starks came back to Miami on a two-year deal. Starks was the best defensive tackle to hit free agency this offseason, and with him and Jared Odrick rotating, it should be another great year for him. Hickey also signed players such as Cortland Finnegan, Shelley Smith, and most recently, Knowshon Moreno. All of the players are an upgrade over last season with the only question mark being Finnegan.
The NFL Draft is the next big test for Hickey and time will tell whether or not he succeeds with that. The ultimate test will be this season when the team comes together and begins playing. While it’s still too early to gauge whether or not Hickey will be successful, his first 60 days in office have been very promising.