On the field, the Miami Dolphins are looking forward to building off of two consecutive winning seasons with an improved roster and an enthusiastic young head coach. Off of the field, the Dolphins have been embroiled in many rumors and controversies these last several months.
After the NFL concluded its investigation into a myriad of allegations, severe penalties were levied against the team and its owner for violations related to tampering.
Perhaps the most notable end result of the punishments handed down was the significant fine levied to Miami owner Stephen Ross. His bank account will be $1.5 million lighter, as the league wanted to send a message to the person at the very top of the franchise. While Ross’ net worth lands in the billions of dollars, this is not an inconsequential slap on the wrist that he can just pay for and move on from.
The NFL has also prohibited him from being at the team facility, and representing the franchise in any event through October 17. Ross is also barred from participating in any league meeting until the annual get-together in 2023.
When looking at the totality of the league’s actions towards Ross, it seems clear that they wanted to temporarily reduce the level of influence he has over his own team and in the league for the near future. The hefty monetary total of the fine is notable, but the NFL also wanted to show that every team needs to be accountable for their actions.
The Dolphins were found guilty of tampering with players and coaches who were currently under contract with other franchises. The most notable contact was with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, who Miami reached out to even before he left the New England Patriots. They would once again reach out to him since he has been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The franchise would also try to connect with Sean Payton in the past, who was still coaching the New Orleans Saints. There have been several rumors over the past few months that the Dolphins dream brain trust was Brady at quarterback, and Payton on the sidelines.
The NFL also looked into tanking allegations brought forth by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores. He contended that Ross offered to pay him $100,000 for each loss Miami endured during the 2020 NFL season, with hopes of solidifying a top draft pick.
The league did not find any evidence of this taking place, or intentional losing of games, and actions taken against the Dolphins or Ross were not performed with this in mind.
Team vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal was also fined $500,000.
In addition to the penalties handed down to members of the Dolphins front office, the league also took swift and noteworthy action to affect how Miami can proceed with football operations.
The NFL stripped the franchise of its own 2023 first-round draft pick, and a 2024 third-round selection. This could come back to hamper the team, as Miami was prepared to head into next year’s draft with two first round picks(they acquired one from San Francisco in the Trey Lance trade). If quarterback Tua Tagovailoa does not prove to be the long term answer at quarterback this year, it was possible that the team would use both of those picks to move up in a loaded class at that position.