Sean Payton

Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Suspended; Team Docked Draft Picks For Tampering

The tampering allegations faced by the Dolphins have led to serious consequences for the organization. Owner Stephen Ross has been suspended for the beginning of the 2022 season, and the team has been docked two draft picks (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). ESPN’s Jeff Darlington notes that the decision is final, and there is no appeals process (Twitter link).

Ross will be suspended through October 17 of this year. He is also banned from all league committees and is not allowed to attend league meetings until March 2023. In addition, he has been fined $1.5MM. The draft picks the team is forfeiting are a first-round selection in 2023, as well as a third-rounder in 2024. Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal, who is also a TB12 board member (per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times), has also been suspended and fined $500K.

The full findings of the league’s investigations into the team’s attempts to acquire quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Sean Payton include “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” per commissioner Roger Goodell. The league has found that the Dolphins engaged in “impermissible communications” with Brady dating back to 2019-20, when he was with the Patriots (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Miami likewise held illegal talks with Brady while he was a member of the Buccaneers, pertaining to a potential ownership stake, Schefter adds. As for Payton, the league has found that the Dolphins’ initial talks with him took place before before his decision to step away from the Saints in January, and that permission was still not granted by the Saints after that decision (Twitter links).

With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment,” Ross said in a statement. “However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that.”

Reports surfaced early in the offseason of repeated attempts by Ross to bring Brady (who has a well-known personal relationship with Ross and Beal) to Miami as the team’s quarterback and/or minority owner. The move was expected to represent a package deal with Payton, but fell through in the wake of Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against, among others, the team. Much of the story was first detailed by PFT’s Mike Florio, but was later corroborated by a number of outlets; today’s new confirms what many had already suspected based on that reporting.

The punishment handed down to Ross, Beal and the organization is meant to “deter future violations and safeguard the integrity of the game,” per the league’s ruling. While it remains to be seen if it will have the intended effect in future cases of the sort, the Dolphins certainly face a steep price for their actions.

Sean Payton Expects To Coach Again

A recent report connected Sean Payton to resurfacing in the NFL next season, tying the former Saints coach to the Cowboys, Chargers and Dolphins. Connections to Dallas and Miami have persisted, though Los Angeles represents new territory here. Any team that hires Payton would need to compensate the Saints, who have the Super Bowl-winning HC under contract through 2024.

But Payton rumors are unlikely to die down anytime soon. The 16-year New Orleans coach is set to work for FOX this year, but he continues to view a return to the sidelines as likely.

Ultimately, do I think I’ll get back in? Sure,” Payton said, via Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “There’s no way to predict who that club might be. Usually, there are about six openings every year. If there’s a right fit somewhere, that ultimately will depend on several factors. … We’ll deal with it when the time comes.”

Payton, 58, does not plan to push for an already-filled position. Though, his prospective interest in certain jobs would open the door to teams making offseason maneuvers next year. The Cowboys, who employed Payton as their quarterbacks coach from 2003-05, have been connected to a Payton trade off and on for many years. With Mike McCarthy not exactly secure beyond this season, Payton rumors are unlikely to cease. For what it’s worth, Jerry Jones attempted to distance the Cowboys from the unavoidable Payton buzz by reaffirming his commitment to McCarthy last month.

The Payton-Tom Brady-Miami connection endured this offseason as well, and Payton is believed to have been flattered by the AFC East team’s pursuit — one that may or may not have been close to crossing the finish line. The team having just hired Mike McDaniel complicates a Payton-to-Miami push next year, though one-and-done HCs are obviously not unprecedented.

Brandon Staley underachievement with what looks like a strong Chargers roster this season would be something to monitor, given the new Payton connection. And, even though Payton is not believed to have quarterback play as a prerequisite for a landing spot, Justin Herbert could certainly sway matters — if that job becomes available. Given the roster Staley now has, it would be hard to imagine the former Rams defensive coordinator being booted after two years. But stranger NFL coaching storylines have certainly emerged.

Payton is set to work on both FOX Sunday pregame shows, per Bell. This path has kept Bill Cowher from making a long-rumored return, but Jon Gruden eventually came back to the sideline. Cowher and Gruden were much younger than Payton when they initially stepped away. Dick Vermeil, who spent 14 years in broadcasting between his Eagles and Rams gigs, was 60 when he returned to coaching in 1997. Payton’s comments in January and this week would point to a shorter hiatus.

Latest On Former Saints HC Sean Payton

Sean Payton was linked to a number of a head coaching gigs this offseason, but it sounds like the former Saints HC was legitimately looking to take a break in 2022. There’s still a chance he’ll be ready to return to the sideline for the 2023 campaign, and if that’s the case, the long-time coach would have a few preferred destinations.

[RELATED: Sean Payton To Be Fox Analyst In 2022]

A source told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that the Dolphins, Cowboys, and Chargers would interest Payton if the jobs became available. Of course, the source was also adamant that Payton “would never lobby for a filled job” and would only have interest if those organizations move on from their current coaches. Further, the source indicated that Payton valued “warm weather, a roster good enough to compete and most importantly, control over personnel decisions” at a new stop, and while a good QB would be helpful, that’d be secondary to his other priorities.

If you’ve been following the Payton rumblings throughout the offseason, you’re certainly not surprised about the Miami connection. There was a reported deal in place with the Dolphins that would have seen him join Miami alongside Tom Brady if not for Brian Flores‘ racial discrimination lawsuit. As Jackson writes, Payton was “flattered” by the Dolphins interest, but he truly intends to take time away from coaching in 2022. Further, while a previous source indicated that the Dolphins offered Payton a five-year, $100MM contract, Jackson notes that the Dolphins never had the opportunity to offer the contract since they were never granted permission by the Saints to speak to the coach.

Of course, the Dolphins ended up pivoting to Mike McDaniel, and the organization is hoping they won’t even have to think about a Payton pursuit next year. There’s also the status of general manager Chris Grier, but Jackson opines that the executive wouldn’t have an issue with deferring to Payton.

Payton has also previously been connected to Dallas, where he spent three seasons as the QBs coach before landing the HC gig with the Saints in 2006. Mike McCarthy has had a roller coaster two years in Dallas; after a 6-10 campaign in 2020, the former Packers HC led the team to an NFC East title last season. Unfortunately, that brief success was overshadowed by an underwhelming playoff loss, leading some to speculate that McCarthy could be on the hot seat. Jerry Jones made it clear that he’s committed to McCarthy, but things could obviously change if Dallas underwhelms in 2022.

The Chargers are an interesting inclusion on Payton’s list. The organization gave Anthony Lynn four seasons before replacing him with Brandon Staley, and there’s a good chance that the replacement will have just as long of a leash as his predecessor. Staley would surely get more than two seasons to guide the Chargers back to the postseason, but things could have obviously change if the organization has a chance to lure a coach with Payton’s resume.

Jerry Jones Reaffirms Commitment To Mike McCarthy

Ever since his decision to step away from coaching the Saints, Sean Payton has been connected to a number of positions around the league. Among those is a reunion with the Cowboys, but owner Jerry Jones is once again backing the team’s incumbent HC. 

Payton spent three season as Dallas’ QBs coach before being hired by the Saints in 2006. His tenure in New Orleans included the franchise’s lone Super Bowl title, but it came to an end this January. He won’t coach in 2022, instead trying his hand at broadcasting. The 58-year-old has still be linked to other, future, coaching roles during the offseason, however.

Chief among those is the reported deal in place with the Dolphins which would have seen him join Miami alongside Tom Brady if not for Brian Flores‘ racial discrimination lawsuit. More generally, his name has been used in discussions of Mike McCarthy‘s future with the Cowboys.

After a 6-10 campaign in 2020, the former Packers HC led the team to an NFC East title last season. That success was overshadowed by an underwhelming playoff loss, however, leading some to speculate that McCarthy could be on the way out. In the aftermath of their elimination, though, Jones made clear his support of the former Super Bowl winner. Jones reacted similarly when the idea of bringing Payton back came up again.

“Sean Payton shouldn’t be out there” he said, via Clarence E. Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram“For him, the Cowboys, that’s just sheer out of the air. It’s well known we’re good friends and we think a lot of him as a head coach. But in this case… he shouldn’t be a conversation piece.”

While Jones added that “it’s also an eternity between right now and next year,” his commitment to McCarthy for 2022 is obvious. The Cowboys have a number of new faces – particularly along the offensive line and in the receiving corps – to work with for the upcoming campaign, one in which expectations will once again be high for the team. McCarthy’s performance will no doubt affect the future of his tenure, but for now it is safe.

Sean Payton To Be Fox Analyst In 2022

Linked as a potential Tom Brady coworker earlier this year, Sean Payton will follow the Buccaneers quarterback to Fox. Though, the two NFL mainstays’ timelines might not overlap at the network.

The 16-year Saints coach agreed to a deal to become a Fox analyst, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who adds Payton was in talks with Amazon as well. Payton indicated a desire to explore broadcasting. For now, that will be the Super Bowl-winning HC’s role.

Brady, of course, signed a 10-year, $375MM deal to be Fox’s lead analyst — whenever his final retirement decision commences. While Brady is ticketed to try his hand in the No. 1 analyst role, Florio notes Payton will work in the studio for Fox. It is conceivable Brady makes his debut for the network this season, depending on the Buccaneers’ performance, but he and Payton might not see their paths cross. Payton, 58, may take the Bill Cowher/Jimmy Johnson route and stay on the broadcasting side for good, but he has consistently been connected to other coaching jobs.

In addition to his perennial Cowboys ties, the ex-Dallas assistant has been linked to the Panthers and Dolphins this offseason. The latter rumor persisted and connected him to Brady, who was to be his quarterback in Miami. The Saints, however, denied the Dolphins permission to speak with Payton, who had recently announced he was leaving his New Orleans gig. During that announcement, Payton said he did not plan to coach in 2022. Just as the Bucs still hold Brady’s rights, the Saints would require compensation for Payton. For now, that is on the back-burner.

Latest On Dolphins’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady, Sean Payton

Two weeks ago, one of our staff writers, Rory Parks, posted a story detailing an update on a bit of a conspiracy being reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The reporting from Florio concerned a plan by the Dolphins to acquire quarterback Tom Brady and former-Saints head coach Sean Payton to create one of the most enviable QB-HC tandems in the league. 

The theory dates back to January 2020, when Brady was set to hit free agency and the possibility arose that he may finally leave New England. Florio reported that the Dolphins were generating the most buzz with talk of potentially making Brady a minority owner of the team. Then, this past February, Florio followed it up with a report that the Dolphins, once again, were looking into acquiring the two leaders during the offseason. Florio’s most recent reports on the matter double down on his assertion, claiming that the deal was “very close” to going down before former-Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the team following his dismissal, throwing a wrench into any of Miami’s plans moving forward.

For the most part, it’s been Florio, alone, beating this drum, but, in an episode of STUpodity, the podcast hosted by Dan Le Batard and Jon Weiner, known professionally as Stugotz, released this Friday, NBC Sports’ Chris Simms added some fuel to the fire.

During the podcast, Simms said, “(The Dolphins) were going to trade a second-round pick to Tampa Bay to get Brady. (The Buccaneers) weren’t going to hold him hostage. Sean Payton and the Saints, that was going to be a first-round pick to get that deal done. It was a very real, tangible thing and the Brian Flores lawsuit definitely threw a wrench in it.”

It’s difficult to say how much, if any, of this was legitimately set to happen. In theory it makes sense, but, at the same time, the moves necessary to bring in Brady and Payton certainly would’ve precluded them from being able to make the moves they’ve made since the rumors started, moves that have taken them from 5-11 in 2019 to two consecutive winning seasons in 2020 & 2021. Would they have had the picks to draft young contributors like Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Raekwon Davis, Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips, Jevon Holland, or Liam Eichenberg? Or the draft capital to acquire star wide receiver Tyreek Hill?

Bringing Payton and Brady in to lead an empty cupboard likely wouldn’t have put them in a favorable position back in 2020. Bringing them in now makes a lot more sense, but is way more difficult to make happen. Still, as long as Payton still wants to coach and Brady still wants to play, these rumors will likely persist into the next few offseasons.

Latest On Dolphins’ Pursuit Of Tom Brady, Sean Payton

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk continues to beat the Tom Brady-to-Miami drum. In January 2020, just weeks before Brady was set to hit free agency and perhaps join an organization other than the Patriots for the first time in his two-decade career, Florio wrote that the Dolphins were the team that was generating the most buzz with respect to a Brady signing. Even then, the PFT creator reported that there was talk of Brady also becoming a minority owner of the ‘Fins.

In February 2022, Florio wrote that Miami hoped to hire former Saints head coach Sean Payton as its new HC this year, and that the club also planned to go after Brady and install him as the starting quarterback. Then, Brian Flores, who was fired as the Dolphins’ head coach in January, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the team, also naming the Giants and Broncos as defendants. According to Florio, the suit forced the Dolphins to scrap the Payton/Brady plan, and Brady announced his retirement on the same day the suit was filed.

Several days ago, Florio reported that Brady was indeed “very close” to joining the Dolphins, and that he would have first done so as a minority owner (other reporters have echoed the sentiment that Brady may want to own a part of the franchise). At that point, the Dolphins would have acquired Payton’s rights from the Saints and Brady’s rights from the Buccaneers and would have had the enviable HC-QB tandem they were seeking all along. Of course, it may not have been so simple; Florio acknowledged in his February 2022 piece that New Orleans declined Miami’s request to talk to Payton, even after Payton elected to step away from the Saints. Dolphins GM Chris Grier confirmed as much, and Payton himself said he would probably not have been interested in the Miami gig.

If Florio is accurate, however, this could all resurface in 2023. When discussing the ownership component of these rumors, Florio continues to emphasize Brady’s close relationship with Bruce Beal, who is Dolphins owner Stephen Ross‘ right-hand man. As far as Brady the player is concerned, it’s worth noting that one of Flores’ allegations in his suit is that Ross wanted Flores to recruit a “prominent quarterback” — generally believed to be Brady — at the end of the 2019 season, which would have contravened the league’s tampering rules.

So, if Brady wants to continue his playing career next year but wants to leave the Bucs — Florio remains adamant that Brady’s “retirement” was simply an attempt to leave Tampa and that he only circled back to the team after it became clear he would not be able to join the Dolphins or 49ers — then perhaps Ross will throw his hat in the ring again, depending on how Tua Tagovailoa performs in 2022. And, regardless of whether Brady ever plays his home games in South Beach, it at least seems like a strong possibility that he could one day own a piece of the Dolphins.

With Mike McDaniel having just been hired as Miami’s HC, it is perhaps less likely that Ross & Co. will seek to woo Payton next year, but given Ross’ history of seeking high-profile candidates for his head coaching post, such a pursuit probably should not be ruled out.

Dolphins GM Talks Watson, Payton/Brady Rumors, Howard

THURSDAY: Set to pursue a media gig, Payton indicated to veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole (via Twitter) he would “probably not” have been interested in this Dolphins setup had he been given the chance to speak with the team. Once Payton lands with a network, the subject of his next coaching stop figures to come up fairly frequently.

WEDNESDAY: It’s already been a busy offseason for the Dolphins. The team hired a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, dealt with the fallout of former HC Brian Flores‘ lawsuit, and brushed off continued rumors regarding their quarterback position.

While speaking with reporters today, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier addressed many of the major story lines surrounding the organization. Most notably, the GM acknowledged that “the door is shut” on acquiring Deshaun Watson from the Texans. The organization has been continually connected to Watson over the past year, but the team’s decision makers seem focused on moving forward with Tua Tagovailoa.

Grier also addressed a recent report that indicated the organization pursued Sean Payton as their head coach and Tom Brady as their starting quarterback. While the GM discussed the team’s brief pursuit of the coach (which we detail below), he said the Dolphins “never had a conversation” with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

The Dolphins general manager provided a handful of additional thoughts on the state of the Dolphins, which we’ve compiled below (h/t to Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com):

More on the Dolphins’ commitment to Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback:

“Mike and the staff have come in to do a lot of work, studied a lot of Tua and they feel good about his developmental upside, what he can be and then the fit in the offense. I think we’re good with Tua.”

On the Dolphins pursuit of Payton:

“[We called the Saints] to see if he is done with football or does he want to coach. … They told us no, they weren’t going to grant permission. So that was it.

“We stopped to see if he would have interest at all. So, I don’t even know if he would have interest.”

On cornerback Xavien Howard, who is seeking a new contract following back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons:

“My anticipation is that Xavien will be here next year. We made the promise to him — after the season, we’ll make the adjustment … just to be truthful with him and do it, that’s the right thing to do.”

On impending free agents Mike Gesicki and Emmanuel Ogbah:

“Mike knows how I feel about him. I drafted him and have had separate conversations with Mike. We’ve had limited talks with his agents.”

“As it got to the end of the season with free agency, both of those guys get to this point, they want to be able to see what their options are. They both told us they want to be back in Miami. They both love it here, they want to be back. We’ll see what happens.”

On Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams (including the Dolphins):

“(At) some point when it’s done [i can discuss], maybe in the future, but I can’t comment on this right now.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Coaching Rumors: Saints, Texans, McDaniel, Giants, Broncos

The Saints began their cycle of head coaching interviews this week, conducting meetings with the following candidates: former Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson (1/30; hired by Jaguars), former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores (2/1), Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (2/2), their current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi (2/3), their current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen (2/4), and Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (2/6).

New Orleans also requested permission to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. There were some early reports that permission had been granted, but that hasn’t been confirmed and nothing has been scheduled, as of yet. ESPN’s Saints’ reporter Mike Triplett also mentioned that current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was offered an opportunity to interview for the position, but Carmichael declined. Despite being a part of Sean Payton‘s staff since Payton’s tenure in New Orleans began back in 2006, it appears Carmichael has no interest in running the show in the Big Easy. Whether he has retirement or another destination in mind or he is just comfortable in his role, Carmichael will not be the Saints’ next head coach.

Here are a few more notes from the ongoing coaching searches and staff changes throughout the NFL, starting with the other head coaching vacancy:

  • Houston recently narrowed their list of head coaching candidates down to three: Brian Flores, former quarterback Josh McCown, and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Well, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson, the Texans are now down to two candidates, with Gannon being informed Saturday that he will not be receiving the head coaching position, leaving Flores and McCown as the two remaining names.
  • New Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel reportedly has interest in holding on to some of the defensive assistants currently under contract in Miami, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This includes current defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who followed Flores to Miami from New England. The lack of staff turnover would be a positive for a defensive unit that played well during the team’s seven-game win-streak in the back half of the season.
  • The Giants were able to add a piece to Brian Daboll‘s new staff while missing out on another today. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeted out that Andy Bischoff will become the Giants’ new tight ends coach. Bischoff followed David Culley from Baltimore to Houston and will make the lateral move over from the Texans with their head coaching position still in the air. Unfortunately, the Giants did not get their running backs coach, as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted out that Deland McCullough has turned down Daboll’s offer, choosing instead to remain the running backs coach at Notre Dame, believing it gives him the best opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
  • New Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett is also looking to fill out his staff. The Broncos are planning to interview Jon Embree who most recently held the position of tight ends coach/assistant head coach in San Francisco. Embree parted ways with the Niners after being asked to take a 60 percent pay cut after San Francisco’s NFC Championship loss. The man who has coached George Kittle since he was drafted in 2017 would be a nice addition to Hackett’s system.