Scratch Jason Licht off the Miami Dolphins’ general manager list. He has taken the same job in Tampa Bay.
Licht, the Arizona Cardinals’ vice president of player personnel who interviewed with the Dolphins on Jan. 10, will become the Buccaneers’ top personnel decision-maker, the team announced late Tuesday. Licht will be given full control of the draft, according to Fox Sports.
“Jason is a seasoned NFL personnel veteran who has worked with some of the most accomplished individuals in professional football while contributing to success in New England, Philadelphia and Arizona,” Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said. “His strong player personnel background provides the ideal complement to Lovie Smith’s philosophy as our head coach.”
Licht was one of the first three candidates to sit down with Stephen Ross, and was widely seen as a likely finalist. Ray Farmer (Browns), Brian Xanders (Titans) and Brian Gaine (Dolphins) also are in the running for a second look.
However, the Dolphins plan to interview candidates beyond the seven already to sit for the job, which became available when the team parted ways with Jeff Ireland on Jan. 6.
Some around the league have questioned the pace in which the Dolphins have gone about their search, but now that Tampa Bay has its hire, there will be little incentive to speed it up. Miami is the only team in the NFL currently without a GM. Gaine, the team’s assistant GM, is heading up the Dolphins’ team of scouts at this week’s Senior Bowl.
In other Dolphins news, the team formally announced the hiring of Mark Duffner as their new linebackers coach. Duffner will replace George Edwards, who is the new defensive coordinator in Minnesota.
“I want to welcome Mark and Kathy to the Miami Dolphins family,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “Mark brings an impressive coaching résumé and a wealth of football knowledge to the organization that will not only benefit our defensive players, but the team as a whole.”
Duffner, 60, joins the Dolphins from Jacksonville, where he coached the linebackers the past eight seasons.
His primary responsibility in Miami: Maximize the production of Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, two big-ticket free agents who didn’t live up to expectations in their first year in town.
“They’re talented players,” Duffner said. “It’ll be my job to find ways to make that talent better and better.”