For a story about player movement in which no player moved, the reports about Tom Brady trying to take his talents to South Beach and play for the Dolphins have been as intriguing a tale as any this offseason.
Of course it begins with Brian Flores suing the NFL and Miami's ownership back at the beginning of February. Heated up with Brady's sudden retirement. Picked up speed when we began to hear that he had a deal in place to get a piece of Dolphins ownership but Flores lawsuit threw a wooden shoe called a sabot into the works because it would've meant sworn depositions, emails and phone records, and he'd had enough of that life from 2015-16. And then hit the afterburners with more reports confirming the other reports after Brady's subsequent unretirement:
The point being, there's too much smoke for there not to have been a fire. And for the first time, Brady answered a question about it at Buccaneers minicamp. And tried to douse the flames by pouring a stock pot of word soup on them:
I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I’m done playing football. I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football. And I think for me the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team.
It goes on and on like that. But you get the flavor of it. Nowhere in there did he categorically deny he was working on a deal with Miami. Or uncategorically. Or semi-categorically. Or polyunsaturated-uncategorically. Just did that purposefully vague lawyerspeak thing where he said he talks to lots of people about lots of stuff and then renewed his vows with Tampa.
And while all this was going on, we got yet more details about just how much of this deal was consummated before Flores' legal coitus interruptus. And if it's even partially true, Brady and Sean Payton got hosed. So did a lot of assistant coaches:
Source (paywall) - Sean Peyton was to receive $100 million in five years as coach of the Dolphins, a source in the league said, with the idea of making him the highest paid NFL coach after Bill Belichick of New England. …
Dolphins owner Bruce Bill hired Brady, who wanted a proven coach, and hired Peyton. They led the talent team. Vic Fangio was chosen by the Dolphins as the defense coordinator, a source said, giving them one of the main defensive minds to work with the developing unit.
It all came together in late January by the time other assistants called football friends in South Florida, asking practical questions about how to move here, such as where they should live.
“Rent or buy? This side [State Road 84] or from that side? ”Another source in the league said the questions were asked by aides.
One assistant who needed to be hired said, “It was done for us to come.”
The Dolphins planned to compensate former teams Peyton and Brady. Would a choice in the first round of New Orleans satisfy Peyton, with whom the contract was still valid? The second round pick in Tampa Bay? It was an idea.
It all fell apart on February 1, when Flores filed a lawsuit for racial discrimination against the NFL.
Jinkies, that is a lot of work, all done for naught. Payton was all set to become a nine figures coach. Vic Fangio was going to be living the good life, coordinating a Top 5 defense instead of unemployed. Assistants were checking out the real estate listings while their wives were looking at local schools and picking out curtains. Dolphins ownership was even going over the ransom demands of their former teams to see how good a deal they could work out.
And it all came crashing down on February 1st, with news of Flores legal battle. Now Brady had to go hat in hand to Bucs ownership to get Bruce Arians fired, while Payton and Fangio are living off their savings. Moments like this change the course of football history. We may never really know what the long term ramifications will be. Just that the AFC East was spared from the greatest player, one of the best coaches, and one of the most successful defensive minds in the game.
All because of a well timed lawsuit. Which, we should add, was prompted by an "accidental" text from the one man who made out best in this deal. I stand by my theory from the beginning of all of this. There was no mistake on that text. This was masterminded by the most diabolical genius the game has ever known.
Kiss the rings.