The Miami Dolphins were stripped of their 2023 first-round NFL Draft pick and a 2024 third-round pick, among other disciplinary measures, after the NFL found that the franchise violated league policies related to the integrity of the game following a six-month investigation.
Primary team owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal were found to have violated anti-tampering policy during three separate incidents from 2019 to 2022 in relation to conversations with former New England Patriots and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and then-New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, ESPN reports.
Ross was fined $1.5 million and suspended through October 17, which includes being barred from the Dolphins' facility or representing the franchise at any team event, as well as all league meetings before the NFL's annual meeting in 2023.
Beal was fined $500,000 and is prohibited from attending any league meeting during the remainder of the 2022 NFL season.
Beal is accused of communicating with Brady impermissibly during the end of his tenure with the Patriots ahead of his free agency, with Ross and other Dolphins executives being notified of the interaction.
Both Ross and Beal were accused of tampering with Brady again during the 2021 season while under contract with the Bucs, with conversations focused on bringing the seven-time Super Bowl champion in as a limited partner and potential football executive, with the possibility of him playing for the Dolphins also being discussed.
The Dolphins were also found to have had "impermissible communications" with agent Don Yee -- who represents both Brady and Payton -- in relation to Payton coaching the team next season.
The NFL found that the Dolphins "did not seek consent" with Payton's former team, the Saints, amid his recent retirement decision, which was necessary.
"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 Dolphins released an official statement from Ross regarding the accusations, which attempted to deny allegations made by former head coach Brian Flores that Ross attempted to incentivize him to "tank," or purposely lose games, while also alleging racism in relation to his 2022 termination.