Dolphins Forfeit 1st-Round Pick, Owner Suspended For Tampering With Tom Brady, Sean Payton

There’s good news and very bad news for the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday.

An NFL investigation into tampering and possibly tanking during the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons and offseason found the Dolphins did not intentionally lose games in 2019. Good for them.

But the investigation also found that the Dolphins willfully tampered with quarterback Tom Brady multiple times when he played for both the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and are being sanctioned for that by losing a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024 while owner Stephen Ross is being suspended by the league until Oct. 17.

Ross is also being fined $1.5 million, cannot attend any league meetings prior to the annual meeting in 2023, and is being indefinitely removed from all committees on which he serves.

Dolphins vice chairman and limited partner Bruce Beal is prevented from attending league meetings the remainder of this year and is being fined $500,000. Beal has a relationship with Brady and was involved in the tampering, per the NFL.

This is what the NFL investigation found:

  1. The Dolphins had impermissible communications with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019-20, while he was under contract to the New England Patriots. Those communications began as early as August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and postseason. These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Beal, who in turn kept Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Brady.
  2. The Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those discussions began no later than early December 2021 and focused on Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins. Both Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.
     
  3. In January 2022, the Dolphins had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton, about having Payton serve as Miami’s head coach. Miami did not seek consent from New Orleans to have these discussions, which occurred before coach Payton announced his decision to retire as head coach of the Saints. Following that announcement, Miami requested permission to speak to coach Payton for the first time, which New Orleans declined to grant.

Today’s announcement follows a six-month investigation covering events from 2019-2022 that was led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White and a team of lawyers from the Debevoise law firm. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed his deep appreciation to the investigators and then clobbered the Dolphins.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” Goodell said. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years.

“Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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