Tom Brady will not be on the field for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Instead, his first work in the season against a defense from a team other than his own was today in a joint practice with the Dolphins.
Outside of backup center Robert Hainsey — currently starting due to a Ryan Jensen injury — getting carted off the field and NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport reporting that the injury was simply a cramp, not much notable happened on the field.
Except for the fact that Brady was on the field against a team that was found to have committed tampering to the degree NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declared were ”violations of unprecedented scope and severity” in trying to acquire him and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.
The Dolphins have been fined and have to forfeit their first-round selection in next year’s draft along with a third-rounder in 2024. This is the conclusion to a story that became public knowledge two days after the Conference Championship games in late January. Brian Flores filed a lawsuit after Bill Belichick allegedly mistakenly informed Flores that he received the job as the New York Giants coach. Flores had not yet had his interview with the Giants, and realized during their text exchange that Belichick intended to send that to Brian Daboll who ended up getting the job.
Flores accused the NFL of discriminatory hiring practices in his lawsuit and also went after the Dolphins who he believed had fired him unjustly. He claimed that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per game for losses in his first year as coach. Flores also claimed that Ross tried to lure him into a lunch meeting with a quarterback that Ross wanted and he didn’t. It would later be discovered that quarterback was Brady.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported on Feb. 28 that the Dolphins had been making inquiries to Brady and Sean Payton about becoming the team’s new starting quarterback and head coach. The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin said on WEEI in March that he heard from completely different sources that the Dolphins were looking to bring Brady and Payton to the franchise — with Brady as a minority owner. Then Flores’ lawsuit “throws a wrench in the entire thing. Now all of a sudden you’re worried about cell phones and discovery and all this stuff, so Brady, they scrap those plans.”
You read that correctly. They were concerned about cell phones and discovery. You know, the most important parts of any business negotiation.
The story faded from public consciousness until the NFL released its findings that confirmed all of the reporting, and the many allegations in Flores’ lawsuit including the Dolphins’ “emphasis on the draft,” which you or I might consider tanking. However, the investigation found that while the $100,000 offer was made, it was done in jest.
For two days, the Buccaneers will be literally working with the Dolphins to get ready for a season, knowing that the Dolphins were tampering to try and get their quarterback while he was under contract with them.
Mike McDaniel and his staff were not implicated in this matter — clearly, as he wasn’t the Dolphins’ first choice to coach the team — so maybe it won’t be as difficult for Todd Bowles and Byron Leftwich to get along with the other coaches. Still, it must sting working alongside a team that was conspiring to take their quarterback. It has to be in the back of Leftwich’s head while he’s having meetings with a player who was gone before last season ended until, ironically, the systemic racism that he has been forced to deal with nixed the entire plan.
The Dolphins vs. Buccaneers preseason on Saturday will not be nationally televised, so if there is an awkward moment where the broadcast crews have to discuss this issue, at least the NFL can breathe a sigh of relief only the state of Florida will hear it live.
This week will likely pass without much discussion about what happened between Brady and the Dolphins, but it shouldn’t. The Dolphins and Brady were in cahoots, while he was under contract with the Buccaneers and now these teams are going through with their scheduled two days to help each other. Some of those group texts in Tampa this week have got to be interesting.