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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t have much to say Wednesday when asked about the Miami Dolphins getting punished by the NFL on Tuesday for tampering.
When reporters asked Belichick about the situation, he responded: “I’m focused on training camp. That’s all in the past.”
Per ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, the NFL announced Tuesday that it had stripped the Dolphins of their 2023 first-round pick and 2024 third-round pick, in addition to suspending owner Stephen Ross through Oct. 17 and fining him $1.5 million.
The punishment was the result of an investigation that found the Dolphins tampered with then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and then-New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton while they were still under contract with other teams.
As part of the investigation, it was determined that the Dolphins illegally made contact with Brady and Payton’s agent at various times from 2019 to 2022.
Ross and Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal were found to have had impermissible conversations with Brady and agent Don Yee, who represented both Brady and Payton.
The talks with Brady began while he was still with the Patriots and focused on him potentially signing with the Dolphins as a free agent prior to the 2020 season.
Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers instead and led them to a Super Bowl win in his first campaign with the team, but the Dolphins didn’t stop there. They reportedly contacted him after the 2021 season to see if he would be interested in becoming a limited partner or executive, although the possibility of him playing for the team was discussed as well.
While Brady retired for about a month this offseason, he was still under contract with the Bucs when the talks occurred, and he ultimately decided to return to play for them in 2022.
The contact with Yee regarding Payton reportedly occurred in January while Payton was still under contract with the Saints. Payton would retire later that month, but Miami’s attempts to see if he would be interested in coaching the Dolphins came when he was still a member of the Saints organization.
Brady, who is a seven-time Super Bowl champion and arguably the greatest quarterback and player regardless of position in NFL history, experienced great success against Miami during his time in New England.
He dominated the AFC East as a whole throughout his Patriots tenure and owns a career record of 24-12 against the Dolphins.
Even at 45 years of age, Brady makes the Buccaneers a strong Super Bowl contender with his mere presence.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are committed to Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback again this season, while Belichick and the Patriots have moved on to 2021 No. 15 overall draft pick Mac Jones under center.
After missing the playoffs in their first season without Brady, the Pats returned to postseason play in 2021, but they are chasing the Buffalo Bills, who have won back-to-back AFC East titles.
Miami is chasing Buffalo as well, and it is possible that it has closed the gap this offseason thanks to its many notable additions, including former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.