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NFL completes investigation into Miami Dolphins following Brian Flores tampering, tanking claims

Flores's claims sparked an investigation that confirmed the Dolphins' plans to bring Tom Brady and Sean Payton to Miami, while they were under contract with other clubs.

The NFL on Tuesday released the findings from its investigation into the Miami Dolphins spurred by former head coach Brian Flores's lawsuit against the team and the NFL. 

While claiming the New York Giants decided against hiring him before interviewing for the head coaching position that ultimately went to Brian Daboll, Flores claimed that, while serving as the club's head coach from 2019-21, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross violated NFL tampering rules and also pressured Flores to tank games to improve the team's draft position.

On the first claim, the NFL completely validated Flores's claims.

Flores claimed Ross pressured him to meet with an unnamed NFL quarterback that was under contract with another team at the time. Further reporting revealed that to be Tom Brady (though it wasn't hard to deduce that from the context of the Flores suit.)

The NFL uncovered a plot to pry Brady from both the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The final Dolphins plan would've been for Brady to join the organization as a front office executive while Sean Payton came aboard as head coach. Payton was under contract with the New Orleans Saints at the time.

Brady 1

As for the tanking claim, the NFL confirmed Ross discussed his preference to improve the Dolphins' 2020 draft position at the expense of its 2019 record with team executives and Flores -- "on a number of occasions," the report said -- but did not corroborate a specific pay-for-loss scheme. Flores claimed Ross offered to pay him $100,000 per defeat in 2019, his first year with the team. The report did not find Flores made the claim up, merely that it was lost in a game of miscommunication and innuendo.

In short, it was the NFL version of this scene from The Wolf of Wall Street (language warning).

Commissioner Roger Goodell commended Flores for "not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season." (It should be noted Flores's lawsuit against the NFL is ongoing.)

Flores

Flores was fired after the 2021 season for posting a 24-25 record in three seasons. While Miami did not reach the playoffs in any of its three campaigns, the club did post a winning record in its final two seasons under Flores's direction. Flores's .490 winning percentage is the highest of any full-time Fins coach since Dave Wannstedt went 42-31 (.575) from 2000-04, and its back-to-back winning seasons in 2020-21 were its first since 2002-03.

Flores has since joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach.

Miami hired 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to replace Flores. 

As a result of the "unprecedented" tampering scheme, the league docked Miami a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024. 

Additionally, Ross was fined $1.5 million, barred from all team activity through Oct. 17, removed from all league committees, and banned from any league meetings until the 2023 annual owners meetings. Vice president/limited partner Bruce Beal was barred from all league meetings through the 2022 season and fined $500,000. 

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.