Dolphins tampering: 5 NFL teams that lost picks and were fined for unethical practice
The Miami Dolphins have been found guilty of tampering and unethical practice as a result of their contact with both Tom Brady and Sean Payton. As such, the franchise owner has been fined by the NFL and the team has been stripped of their first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Tampering as an act is considered illegal by the NFL and falls as a breach under their code of ethics.
Tampering relates to a team reaching out to players or coaches or their agents to discuss terms on a future move without the permission of the team that the individual is currently contracted to.
The Miami Dolphins received no permission from either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the New Orleans Saints to try and ink a deal with Tom Brady and Sean Payton respectively.
Miami may consider themselves unfortunate to have been caught tampering, but they aren’t the first NFL team guilty of such behavior and stripped of draft picks.
#1 – Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons were found guilty of unethical behavior in 2015 for pumping fake crowd noise into their stadium on gameday.
Whilst not quite tampering, the league saw it fit to punish the Falcons rather heavily with a $350,000 fine and the removal of their fifth-round draft selection in 2016.
It was a case where the punishment was barely in line with the crime, but the Falcons nonetheless also saw their team president, Rich McKay, banned for three months.
#2 – New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints drew ire from the entire sporting world back in 2012. They were found guilty of offering cash bonuses or ’bounties' to their players if they injured opponents.
The Saints were stripped of their picks in the second round of the 2012 draft and third round of the 2013 draft. Meanwhile, Payton was suspended for an entire season.
Whilst somewhat forgotten now, it remains one of the most shameful episodes in NFL history.
#3 – New England Patriots
The phrase ‘serial offenders’ isn’t often used in relation to a sports franchise, yet the New England Patriots fall under that exact category. The NFL found them guilty of multiple transgressions over the years, which led to a forfeiture of draft picks.
We can look at the 2015 deflating incident when the Pats intentionally deflated footballs beyond lawful levels in the AFC Championship Game. They were stripped of their first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
However, the Boston franchise was under the microscope once before due to unethical conduct.
Back in 2008, Bill Belichick’s franchise was found guilty of videotaping opposing coaches’ signals on the sidelines. The case in question was related to a 2007 game against the New York Jets, but there are unproven fears that it was done on more occasions.
As punishment for the transgression, the Patriots were stripped of their first-round pick in the 2008 draft.
#4 – Detroit Lions
In 2011, the Detroit Lions were found guilty of tampering as the franchise had illegally attempted to sign safety Jarrad Page.
Page was under contract with the Kansas City Chiefs at the time. The NFL mandated that the Lions forfeit their 2011 seventh-round pick, as well as swapping picks with the Chiefs in the fifth round.
Jarrad Page’s agent reiterated that no contact or tampering had occurred with the Lions, hence why this is a rather forgettable case. Page would eventually sign for the New England Patriots.
#5 – San Francisco 49ers
In 2008, the San Francisco 49ers were charged with tampering after a complaint by the Chicago Bears over illegal contact with Lance Briggs.
The 49ers were trying to sign the linebacker, however, they were caught tampering and forced to forfeit their fifth-round pick in 2008. They were also forced to swap draft selections with the Bears in the third round of the same year.
Briggs was unhappy with his situation in Chicago at the time and feelers were put out that he would be willing to leave. However, the 49ers weren’t able to talk with the player within the legal tampering period and paid the price.
Briggs, for his part, would spend the remainder of his career with the Bears until 2014.