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.
Hickey's hiring came after the Dolphins were rejected by several candidates. New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio and Tennessee Titans vice-president of player personnel Lake Dawson turned down job offers, and Cleveland 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 owner Stephen Ross agreed to part ways.
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.
Plenty of candidates
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 Joe Philbin after Miami collapsed late in the season to blow a playoff berth and finish 8-8.
The Dolphins haven't been above .500 since 2008, the longest such stretch in franchise history. Their tumultuous 2013 season included a locker-room bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny, and a report on the NFL investigation into the case will be released after the Super Bowl.