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NFL offseason rumors: Did Tom Brady almost buy a stake in the Dolphins and try to play for them?

On the Locked On NFL podcast, we discuss recent reports about an alleged plan from the Dolphins to try to bring in Sean Payton and Tom Brady this offseason.

MIAMI — As if this NFL offseason hasn’t already been absolutely wild in almost every way between big trades involving Russell Wilson, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Khalil Mack, Carson Wentz, Amari Cooper (and more), the Brian Flores lawsuit against the Dolphins, Aaron Rodgers returning to Green Bay, Tom Brady retiring and unretiring, Bruce Arians and Sean Payton stepping down…OK, you get it…But there may have been even more craziness.

ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio has been reporting rumors, which he says come from sources inside the Dolphins organization, that Miami and Tom Brady may have been planning something huge.

Florio reported from multiple sources that the Dolphins were pursuing then-Saints head coach Sean Payton in some sort of trade. Interest that was ultimately declined by the Saints after Payton’s resignation in late-January. The Dolphins would have had to give the Saints some kind of compensation and then strike a deal with Payton to hire him.

Florio reported last week that after Brady retired on Feb. 1, the plan was that Brady would eventually be named a minority owner of the Dolphins. 

“Then came the Brian Flores lawsuit. Filed (coincidentally or not) the same day Brady retired, the litigation resulted in the plug being pulled on the Payton/Brady plan,” Florio reported.

Florio said after Brady became a minority owner, Miami would have acquired the contractual rights from the Saints to employ Sean Payton, and then the Dolphins would have at some point gotten the rights from the Bucs to bring Brady onto the roster.

On Tuesday’s Locked On NFL podcast, Locked On Bucs host David Harrison and Locked On Vikings host Luke Braun discussed the wild rumor.

Locked On has a daily podcast covering all 32 NFL teams, find yours here!

“Tom Brady’s retirement on Feb. 1, the day that Brian Flores’ lawsuit also dropped, was supposed to be, according to Florio, the first domino in this string of events that was going to happen and then Flores’ lawsuit basically kept all that from happening because they’re embroiled in all this controversy,” Harrison said on Locked On NFL.

Flores’ lawsuit filed the same day as Brady’s retirement named the Dolphins and other teams alleging racial discrimination in hiring practices after he was fired from Miami after his third season, in which they won eight of their last nine games and narrowly missed the playoffs. 

The lawsuit also alleged owner Stephen Ross tried to bribe Flores to lose games in order to acquire a better draft position and also alleged that Ross tried to get Flores to break NFL tampering rules to bring in a high-profile quarterback in 2020, which had later been reported to be Tom Brady, according to Florio. 

Florio asserts the Flores lawsuit is what prevented Brady from pursuing a minority stake in Miami after his retirement, at least for now.

“A lot people are passing this off as conspiracy, as conjecture…But with everything blowing up with Miami, Tom Brady decides he wants to play anyway and says he’s going to come back and play with the Bucs,” Harrison said.

If that sequence of events was to happen, where the Dolphins would get Payton, Tom Brady retires, Tom Brady becomes a minority owner in the Dolphins and then essentially trades from himself from the Bucs, how would that all even work?

“There’s so much to process about it, how would you work out in a modern day and age, how a player ownership would work?” Braun said. “I guess it would be Tom Brady that would do it. How would that trade have worked out? Would Tampa have played along with that, would they have had a choice? It really would’ve tested just how much command Tom Brady has over professional football. If anybody has the ability to push the envelope of how much power a player could have, it would be Tom Brady.”

Of course it would’ve cost a lot of draft capital for Miami to not only acquire Tom Brady, despite his age, but also the rights to former Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Florio did say he had anonymous sources inside the Dolphins organization confirming to him that this was going to happen. But even so, Harrison said it’s doubtful we’ll ever know the full truth.

“We know how these things work, without a smoking gun like the owner or general manager coming out and saying this was going to happen, we don’t really know and that would have all been tampering so it’s never going to happen,” Harrison said.

“What’s wild about it, is all of that, if true, would have been breaking the rules,” Braun said. “With everything that’s going on in that organization with the tanking and the lawsuit and all these people named and what happens with owner Stephen Ross, it’s a weird time to be a Dolphins fan. Especially because they went out and did a Tyreek Hill trade and they’re building up this team this offseason.”

Florio said rumors about Brady wanting to join Miami as a minority owner have been swirling for years, centered around Brady’s closeness with limited partner Bruce Beal, who is slated to eventually take the ownership reigns from Ross. 

Florio reports that with Brady under contract for one more season in Tampa Bay and his deal containing a no-tag clause, Brady will be a free agent in 2023 and he will be able to sign with any team he chooses. That could be the time that he makes a move to Miami if the Flores lawsuit is worked out by then.

“I don’t think it would have nearly offered the same chance Brady has with the Bucs to ride off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion,” Harrison said. “But, if it’s all true, and the Flores lawsuit gets worked out and Brady ends up buying a minority stake in the Dolphins in 2023, then maybe it confirms it.”

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