Tom Brady reappointed for the Patriots in 2019. It turns out he was talking about playing for the dolphins.

Around the same time that Brady signed his Patriots contract, the NFL found that Brady began “many more detailed” talks with Dolphins minority owner Bruce Beale Jr. about joining his franchise after the 2019 season.

Those surprising revelations were made by the NFL in an investigation report released Tuesday, including allegations of tanking and molestation against the Dolphins and their owners, Stephen Ross and Beale. The allegations were made in a lawsuit filed in February by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

Tuesday’s report revealed that the dolphins’ flirtation with Brady, and vice versa, was far more widespread than previously reported. The only other known contact between Brady and the dolphins occurred in the 2020 season, and again last winter.

The NFL cleared Ross of the tanking charges, but attacked him and his team for tampering with Brady, which included the loss of a first-round draft pick and a six-game suspension for Ross.

Brady was certainly a willing participant in maintaining a dialogue with the Dolphins, one of the Patriots’ biggest rivals, during the 2019 season.

According to the NFL’s sixth-month investigation, Beale, a real estate developer and friend of Brady, “began recruiting Brady in early August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and season after.” These “many more detailed” discussions went through Beale, who then passed the material back to Ross.

The NFL’s findings shed new light on Brady’s 2019 season, his final year at Foxboro. Brady expressed deep disappointment throughout the season, at one point calling himself “the saddest 8-0 quarterback in the NFL”. The Patriots eventually flopped in the second half of the season – especially the offense – and lost at home to the Titans in the wild card round of the playoffs. Brady eventually left the Patriots in March 2020 and picked the Buccaneers, with the Dolphins opting to take on Tua Tagovailoa in the draft.

The new revelations could upset Patriots bosses Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, and tarnish Brady’s sterling reputation among Patriots fans.

Who knows how much those conversations with Biel distracted Brady and affected his focus, mood, and preparation? Was Brady really all-in in 2019, or was he too busy thinking about his next move?

This was the same season the Patriots tried to appease Brady by signing Antonio Brown and trading for Mohamed Sanu. He apparently thanked him by communicating openly with one of the Patriots’ top rivals.

Brady would not be punished for participating in the sparring, but Ross and the Dolphins received a major punishment:

  • the loss of a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round pick in 2024;
  • Ross, the team’s majority owner since 2009, was fined $1.5 million, suspended for the first six weeks of the regular season, could not attend league meetings until the following March, and all his The functions of the committee were taken away.
  • Beale was fined $500,000 and may not attend any league meetings for the rest of the year.

The loss of a first-round pick matches the Patriots’ penalty for Spiegate in 2007, but adding a third-round pick makes it a harsher punishment.

A league source said Ross had been removed from several of the NFL’s most important committees, including finance, NFL media, international and legal gambling.

NFL investigation Globe reporting from April confirmed That the Dolphins were recruiting Brady to join the team ownership and front office this past winter, with former Saints coach Sean Peyton being appointed as their head coach. Brady was under contract with the Bucs at the time, while Peyton, who had stepped down from the Saints, is still under contract for the team.

The NFL found that the Dolphins reneged on Brady in early December 2021, while Brady and the Bucks were fighting for a playoff seeding. Ross and Beale both had several conversations with Brady about “becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the prospect of him playing for the Dolphins, according to the NFL. “

Ross has long distinguished a star quarterback for guiding the Dolphins, with Brady always at the top of his list. Their connection is the University of Michigan – Brady Starr is an alumnus, Ross is a wealthy donor named in the business school. Beale is the son of a prominent Boston real estate developer and accompanied Brady on trips to the Kentucky Derby.

Stephen Ross and the Dolphins were handed a hefty fine on Tuesday for tampering.Wilfred Lee / The Associated Press

Ross’s three-year recruitment of Brady was finally coming to an end this winter. Brady bought a $20 million home in Miami Beach, announced his retirement on February 1, and was set to join the Dolphins’ front office this off-season, with the potential to retire and play again. He goes on to make a package deal with Peyton, who shares Brady’s agent, Don Yee.

Instead, the plans were scrapped due to an unrelated and unforeseen event – ​​Flores’ lawsuit against the Dolphins, filed on the same day Brady announced his retirement. Flores alleges racial discrimination, tanking and molestation.

Despite the NFL’s specific findings of the tampering, Ross said in a statement that “I completely disagree with the findings and convictions. However, I will accept the results because most importantly, there are no distractions to our team.” We are going to start an exciting and winning season. I won’t let anything get in the way of that.”

The ban would have been far more difficult if the NFL found that Ross deliberately lost games to Flores in 2019 to help the team in draft status. The NFL found that Ross may have offered Flores $100,000 for losing the game at the end of the season, but “such remarks were not intended or taken seriously, nor was the subject matter of Mr. Was followed in any case by Ross or anyone at the other club.”

Flores said in a statement that he was “disappointed” by the NFL’s decision on the tanking allegations, and wants Ross to face dire consequences.

“While the investigator found that the dolphins were engaged in tampering with ‘unprecedented scope and severity’, Mr Ross would avoid any meaningful outcome,” Flores said. “I am disappointed to learn that the investigator downplayed the pressure of Mr. Ross’ proposals and Tank Games, especially after I wrote and submitted a letter to Dolphins officials documenting my serious concerns about this topic.”

Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores was “disappointed” with aspects of Tuesday’s decision.John McCall / The Associated Press

Ross is probably lucky that the NFL didn’t come down hard. Brady is certainly lucky that the players are not held responsible for tampering.

And Patriots fans must wonder if Brady sabotaged the 2019 season by placing his head in Miami instead of Foxborough.


Ben Volin can be contacted at ben.volin@globe.com.

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