Dolphins Guilty of Tampering, Stripped of 2023 First-Round Pick

Dolphins coach Brian Flores in 2019
Dolphins coach Brian Flores in 2019. Photo by John Mersits/CSM/Shutterstock (10471303f)

The Miami Dolphins were stripped of their first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft after the NFL found the franchise guilty of violating the league’s tampering rules. The violations are related to the Dolphins tampering with legendary quarterback Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

According to the league’s findings, which were a result of a six-month investigation, the Dolphins had conversations with Brady on two occasions, and on both occasions, the player was under contract with another team.

The first time the Dolphins reached out to Brady was in 2019, while he was a member of the New England Patriots. At the time, Miami was trying to convince the veteran to become the franchise’s new signal-caller. The second time was in 2021, while Brady was with the Bucs when the two sides talked about the possibility that the seven-time Super Bowl winner would join the organization as a partner and an executive.

Then in early 2022, the Dolphins reached out to Sean Payton’s agent in order to see whether Payton would be interested in becoming their new head coach. Miami was in violation as the team didn’t ask for permission from the Saints considering that Payton was still under contract with them.

Stripping the Dolphins of their 2023 first-rounder wasn’t the only punishment the NFL handed to the team. Miami will also lose their third-round selection while owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman Bruce Beal receive fines.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. “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.”

The league also investigated claims of former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores that Ross offered him money to lose games. However, the league found no evidence to support Flores’ claims.

Ross also shared a statement of his own following the verdict, saying that he strongly disagrees “with the conclusions and the punishment” but will “accept the outcome.”

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