"Jeff Ireland certainly was an important part of this organization," said Parcells' successor in Dallas, Wade Phillips. "Miami has done a smart thing by hiring him. And Bill was around him, so he knew what he does."
Ireland may have input in deciding the fate of Cam Cameron, whose job is in jeopardy after going 1-15 in his first season as an NFL head coach. Cameron met Tuesday with Parcells, but remained uncertain whether he would be retained.
Ireland, 37, spent the past three years as Cowboys vice president of college and pro scouting, and he helped build the team that won the NFC East this season with a 13-3 record. Before that, he was an NFL scout for 11 years.
"I am excited about joining the Dolphins," Ireland said in a statement. "I know the great tradition of the team, and in my mind they are one of the flagship franchises in the NFL. They have a great owner in Wayne Huizenga, who I know is committed to making the Dolphins into winners once again. I am looking forward to working with him and everyone else in Miami to achieve that goal."
Huizenga flew by helicopter to the team's training complex to meet with Ireland and left two hours later, shortly before the hiring was announced.
Bad personnel decisions over the past decade are a major reason for the decline of the Dolphins, once a perennial playoff team. They're sitting out the postseason for the sixth year in a row, and only an overtime win against Baltimore last month prevented them from becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team.
While Ireland is a Texas native who played at Baylor, he decided to leave Dallas to become a general manager.
"The promotion, I think, was the key thing. I don't think he was going to be moved up to general manager here," Phillips said to laughter.
Of the 53 players on the Cowboys' roster, 38 were acquired after Ireland was promoted to vice president of college and pro scouting. That includes 12 of the 22 starters.
Ireland once said he looks for big, fast, strong, smart players who have good character and can handle "the pressures of being a professional athlete." The Dolphins said he would hold an introductory news conference later this week.
AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron in Dallas contributed to this report.