Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross began courting Tom Brady after his retirement, pitching the future Hall of Fame quarterback on playing for the team in 2022 and becoming a key figure in the organization whenever he retired. Even more information is now emerging about the Dolphins’ pursuit of Brady.
While the Dolphins committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa publicly, it seemingly only came after the organization’s original plan blew up. Ross, who has long pursued Brady to become his starting quarterback, again explored a way to land the greatest quarterback in NFL history this offseason.
Previous reporting indicated that Miami intended to pair Brady with head coach Sean Payton. While it would have required providing both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints with compensation, the Dolphins seemingly didn’t view that as an issue.
- Tom Brady career stats: 84,520 passing yards, 624 passing touchdowns, 97.6 QB rating, 243-73 record
Ross started putting together a plan to convince the 44-year-old quarterback to come to Miami. It reportedly would have included an ownership share following his retirement from the Dolphins. The Dolphins also contacted the Saints about Payton, slowly building towards their dream coach-quarterback pairing.
It seems Ross went even further than simply offering Brady a small share in the team. He also would have charted a path for Brady to follow in the footsteps of Derek Jeter.
According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, the Dolphins would have given Brady a “position high in the Miami front office” that would have put him in a similar role as what Jeter occupied with the Miami Marlins.
All the pieces seemed to be in place, with the Dolphins just needing to convince the Buccaneers and Saints to trade leaders in their franchise. While the cost would have been high, Ross would have likely ensured Miami paid whatever it took to land Brady and Payton.
Of course, it never came to fruition. When the Brian Flores lawsuit came to light, the Dolphins had to abandon the scheme they spent months creating.
Related: Bruce Arians says Tom Brady gets ‘too much credit’ for team success
Short- and long-term impacts of Brian Flores lawsuit on Miami Dolphins
Tom Brady announced his retirement on the morning of February 2, days after reports indicated he planned to walk away. Hours later, just weeks after being fired by the Miami Dolphins, former head coach Brian Flores filed his lawsuit against the NFL.
The allegations made by Flores changed everything. He accused the Denver Broncos of holding a sham head-coaching interview with him to comply with the Rooney Rule, cited texts from Bill Belichick as evidence of the New York Giants deciding on Brian Daboll as head coach hours before a scheduled interview with Flores and called out the NFL for discriminatory hiring practices.
While the NFL initially rejected his claims outright, commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the league had a lack of diversity in the coaching ranks and there were problems that needed to be fixed. After years of mounting frustration from minority coaches for teams interviewing them just to satisfy the Rooney Rule, an interview conducted with another coach already set to be fired.
It left Miami with no other choice after firing Flores. Ross could no longer go through his plan. Firing Flores after two inning seasons then immediately replacing him with Payton, interviewing a minority coaching candidate in the process to satisfy the Rooney Rule, would have added merit to the suit.
The Dolphins abandoned their plan, eventually hiring head coach Mike McDaniel and committing to Tagovailoa for the 2022 season. Of course, there might still be other consequences.
Flores is accusing Ross of offering $100,000 to lose games in 2019. While the Dolphins’ owner denied the claims, the NFL is investigating and Flores is presenting evidence to support his claims. An owner incentivizing tanking damages the league’s integrity at a time when it is partnered with sportsbooks, a relationship worth billions of dollars in revenue.
If the NFL investigation finds any legitimacy to the allegations made against Ross, there’s a real possibility he could be moved as the Miami Dolphins owner.