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Jeff Ireland out as Dolphins' GM

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MIAMI (AP) - Jeff Ireland is out after six seasons as general manager of the Miami Dolphins, who failed to reach the playoffs the past five years.

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In a brief announcement Tuesday, Ireland and owner Stephen Ross said they mutually agreed to part ways. Ireland had been unpopular with fans for several years, and a late-season collapse by the team last month left his job in jeopardy.

The Dolphins, who finished 8-8, said they would conduct an immediate search for a replacement to lead football operations.

Still to be determined is Ireland's role in a locker-room bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny. The NFL has yet to release a report on its investigation into the case.

Ireland's departure follows Monday's firing of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Coach Joe Philbin will return for a third season, but other changes in his staff are possible.

The Dolphins would have made the playoffs if they had won one of their final two games against the Bills and Jets. Instead, they were beaten by a combined score of 39-7.

Fans vented about Ireland in recent years, and at several games a small plane flew over the stadium tugging a banner that called for him to be fired.

Ireland said he was leaving the best organization in football after meeting with Ross to discuss the direction of the franchise.

''Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways,'' Ireland said in a statement. ''I'd like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time, and I'd like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.''

Ross had considered hiring a football czar over Ireland and Philbin. Instead he'll replace his GM.

''After a series of discussions, we both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways,'' Ross said in a statement. ''Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.''

Ross spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money last offseason to upgrade the roster, and the investment delivered only slight improvement from a 7-9 record in 2012.

Ireland, a protege of Bill Parcells, was hired as general manager in 2008, and the Dolphins won the AFC East in his first season. But they haven't been above .500 since, the longest such stretch in franchise history.

Even before this season, fans focused their frustration on Ireland. More than two dozen people gathered outside the Dolphins' complex one spring day in 2012 to protest the way the team was being run, with some holding signs that read ''FIRELAND.''

Ireland's personnel decisions have produced mixed results. In 2012 he drafted Ryan Tannehill, who shows signs of becoming the franchise quarterback Miami has sought since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season.

Ireland's 2013 draft picks played the fewest snaps of any team in the NFL, including overall No. 3 choice Dion Jordan, who had only two sacks all year.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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