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NFL

What is tampering? Why did the Miami Dolphins lose their 2023 first round pick and get fined by the NFL?

The Miami Dolphins were handed a stiff punishment after the NFL discovered they had illegal contacts with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.

Update:
The Miami Dolphins were handed a stiff punishment after the NFL discovered they had illegal contacts with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.
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The Miami Dolphins have been stripped of a 2023 Draft pick, and have been fined $1.5 million for tampering after a six-month long investigation by the NFL. Now that we know what the punishment is, let’s get into what exactly tampering is.

Brady and Payton targeted in Miami tampering

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman Bruce Beal were found guilty of violating the league’s anti tampering policy a handful of times between 2019 and 2022. The investigations stemmed from coversations the Miami front office members had with quarterback Tom Brady and Sean Payton who at the time was the New Orleans Saints head coach.

As the owner of the team, Ross will have to pay the $1.5 million fine, and will have an added suspension which will prohibit him from the Dolphin’s facility and keep him from any event in which he would represent the team until October 17th. Beal was also fined $500,000 and will be excluded from any league meetings held this season. On top of the fines the Fins lost a first round draft pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024.

Now that we know what the punishment is, let’s get into what exactly tampering is.

Tampering and legal tampering

Tampering occurs when a franchise reaches out to a player that actively has a contract with another team. These chats are defined as “impermissible communitctions” by the league and carry serious consequences. Most of the time tampering happens with a player or coach who are near the end of a contract. Getting first contact in negotiations with a target is of the upmost importance, but there are periods where talks of this nature are permitted.

There is a brief period right before the opening of the free agent market where teams can open up talks to soon-to-be unrestricted free agents. This year’s legal tampering period started at noon on the 14th of March and lasted 52 hours until the market opened.

The tampering the Dolphins did was punished so heavily because they went after two stars, on the field and on the sidelines, on the verge of becoming free agents. The first communication with the Brady came when he was still the New England Patriots quarterback. After Brady finished the 2021 season with Tampa Bay, Ross and Beal contacted the No. 12 again but this time to discuss Brady joining the Fins as a limited partner or a football executive, although there were talks of him being the franchises quarterback while holding a front office position.

Goodell: Dolphins tampering “unprecedented”

In January of this year Miami got in touch with Sean Payton’s agent Don Yee, who is also Brady’s agent, about serving as the Dolphins head coach in the upcoming season. The Saints did not give the Dolphins consent to begin talks to their coach who was on the books until he retired later that month.

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, said this is a case unlike any other seen in the league, “The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” said 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.”

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