The Dolphins thought they had their man again, and he turned them down.
Nick Caserio, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, was offered the Dolphins’ general manager job Saturday but ultimately decided to stay in New England, the Miami Herald has confirmed.
A league source knowledgeable with the Patriots’ dealings said Caserio earned on the low end of the wage scale for his position — and presumably parlayed the Dolphins’ offer into a raise or an outright promotion.
His decision a bitter rebuke for a team that already had one finalist — Ray Farmer — pull out of the running because of concerns over the team’s power structure. It’s unclear why Caserio declined the job after sitting with Stephen Ross for two interviews in the span of 36 hours.
Some around the league question how serious Caserio ever was about actually joining the Dolphins.
Regardless of the why, here’s the reality: Brian Gaine, Lake Dawson and Dennis Hickey are apparently the only three left in the running.
From that group, Ross will likely pick one to be the team’s next GM.
Ross logged long hours at the team’s Davie headquarters Saturday, interviewing Caserio, Dawson and Hickey a final time.
Gaine, the Dolphins’ assistant general manager, got the chance to make his closing argument the night before.
Short of a last-minute dark-horse candidate entering the fray, one of those three men will get the job. They all have something in common: None has been a general manager before.
Dawson, the Titans’ vice president of player personnel, also was a finalist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ GM job, which went to another Miami candidate, Jason Licht.
Hickey was never really in the running for that position, even though he has spent 18 seasons with Tampa Bay, including the past three as director of player personnel. It was unclear before Saturday if Hickey was a finalist in Miami, but a strong initial interview got him a second look.
And now, it is becoming likely that the Dolphins — who have interviewed seven external candidates and targeted a handful more — will end up promoting from within. Gaine has spent the past six seasons with the club, and led its contingency last week during Senior Bowl activities in Mobile.
The Dolphins, who parted ways with Jeff Ireland nearly three weeks ago, will be the last team to make a major hire this offseason.
Seven franchises have changed head coaches in recent weeks; the Buccaneers were the only other team that needed a new general manager.
Whoever gets the job will inherit a talented, yet incomplete roster. Priority No. 1 will be to rebuild an offensive line that allowed a team-record 58 sacks a year ago. Mike Pouncey is the only opening-day starter assured of returning.
And while the Dolphins will have some $30 million in salary cap space at their disposal, they also have 14 players set to become unrestricted free agents. That includes 10 who either started or were expected to start games for the team this year.
Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.