The Dolphins tried to land Tom Brady, and got hit with the biggest tampering penalty ever

The Miami Dolphins have been hit with the largest tampering penalty in NFL history for their flirtation with Tom Brady dating back to 2019. The Dolphins have been docked a 2023 first round draft pick and a 2024 third round draft pick, while owner Stephen Ross has been fined $1.5 million and suspended through Oct. 17, the NFL announced on Tuesday.

The Dolphins’ plan to land Brady and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was reported by multiple outlets earlier this year. You can read the wild details here. Miami’s interest in Brady continued as he moved from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Miami’s penalty was so significant because the league found they tampered with with three different franchises in the Pats, Bucs, and Saints.

Here’s the league’s full statement on what it found during its investigation into the Dolphins:

Our James Dator summed up Miami’s plan to land Brady like this when the original reports started circling in April.

The plan would have seen Brady retire from the Buccaneers, Payton resign from the Saints, and then join forces in Miami. Brady would take a high-ranking job as an executive, serving as his foray from the field into the front office. After Tampa Bay had moved on, Brady would announce that he wanted to return to football, pushing for Miami to make a trade with the Buccaneers. This plan was first reported by Front Office Sports, but later confirmed by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who offered more information on the alleged plan.

Brady allegedly would have taken on a role with the Dolphins similar to that of Derek Jeter with the Marlins, though it’s unclear if an ownership stake would have been involved as well.

The strangest part of the NFL’s statement was the conclusion that the tanking bounty offers made to former head coach Brian Flores were made in jest. Ross reportedly offered Flores $100K for every game Miami lost during the 2019 season to improve the team’s draft position, which Flores reportedly resisted. Here’s a full explanation of the tanking bounty allegations. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following comment following the investigation.

This is the second big NFL punishment handed out this week following a six-game suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson after he was sued for sexual assault by 30 different women. The suspension to Ross is the same length as Watson, but the league framed it different — giving it an exact day rather than going by the week of the season — potentially avoid direct comparisons between the two punishments.

The Dolphins’ grand plan to land Brady never got off the ground. After leading the Bucs to a Super Bowl LV championship, Brady had Tampa Bay in the NFC title game last year before the team lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Brady retired this offseason, but quickly announced he was coming out of retirement to take the field for Tampa Bay once again. He will be 45 years old at the start of this season.

The Dolphins finished 9-8 last year and hired Mike McDaniel as their new head coach over the offseason.

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