October 2, 2022

The Miami Dolphins have been hit with the longest violation penalty in NFL history for their flirtation with Tom Brady dating back to 2019. The Dolphins have a 2023 first-round draft pick and a 2024 third-round draft pick, while owner Stephen Ross fined $1.5 million and suspended until October 17; the NFL announced Tuesday.

The Dolphins plan to land Brady and ex New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton was mentioned by several media 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 in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Miami penalty was so important because the league found it rigged with three different franchises in the Pats, Bucs and Saints.

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

James Dator summed up Miami’s plan to land Brady like this when initial reports began circulating in April.

The plan would see Brady decommit from the Buccaneers, Payton decommit from the Saints and then join forces in Miami. Brady would take on a high-profile 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 Miami to trade with the Buccaneers. This plan was first reported by Front Office Sportsbut later confirmed by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, who offered more information about the alleged plan.

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

The strangest part of the NFL’s statement was the implication that the bounty tanking offers made to former coach Brian Flores were made as jokes. Ross reportedly offered Flores $100,000 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 tank reward claims. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following comment following the investigation.

This is the second major NFL punishment handed down this week after Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended six games after being sued by 30 different women for sexual assault. The suspension for Ross is the same length as Watson’s, but the league defined it differently — giving him an exact day instead of going with the week of the season — potentially avoiding 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 Los Angeles Rams. Brady retired this offseason, but quickly announced he was coming out of retirement to play the field again for Tampa Bay. At the start of this season he will be 45 years old.

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

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