One of the biggest questions that has arisen in the aftermath of the league’s conclusion that the Dolphins blatantly tampered with Sean Payton and Tom Brady relates to the compensation, or lack thereof, given to the victims of the tampering.
The tampering policy makes the “offended club” (as used in the rule) eligible for compensation “if it certifies a complaint that initiates an investigation against the offending club.” The policy also states that, “if the offended club declined or otherwise failed to certify such a complaint after the facts of the matter became known or reasonably should have become known to the offended club, the offended club may not receive any potential award of compensation .”
This language, coupled with the lack of compensation for the Patriots (as to Brady), Buccaneers (as to Brady), or Saints (as to Payton), suggests that the investigation occurred not because of a complaint or certification made by any of those teams. It’s possible, if not likely, that the investigation was sparked by the reference in the Brian Flores lawsuit to an alleged effort by the team in 2019 to tamper with an unnamed quarterback. (PFT asked the league earlier this week for an explanation as to why the Patriots, Bucs, and Saints did not receive compensation for the Miami tampering. The league did not respond.)
There is good reason for none of the three teams to have certified a complaint of tampering. The Patriots surely knew that Brady got a head start on 2020 free agency. The Patriots surely didn’t mind. If they weren’t going to keep him (and they knew they weren’t), there was no reason to worry about technical violations of the policy. While it’s unknown whether the Patriots knew that the Dolphins were talking to Brady before the 2019 season ended, or whether the Patriots would have complained if they’d known, their desire to have a positive parting with Brady may have superseded any desire to pick a fight with a division rival — even if it’s a fight the Patriots would have won.
As to the Buccaneers, it would have been the height of hypocrisy if they’d complained about the Dolphins tampering with Brady in 2021 and 2022, because the Bucs tampered with Brady in 2020. Also, the fact that the entire Payton/Brady package to Miami was done (only to be scrapped by the Brian Flores lawsuit) means that someone with the Buccaneers knew what was going to transpire, and also had agreed to the eventual compensation for Brady.
As for the Saints, again, Payton to Miami was done; a behind-the-curtain deal had been struck for compensation. The decision of Miami GM Chris Grier to call Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland about Payton was coincidental to conversations happening at a higher level. It would have been difficult for the Saints to complain about tampering when the Saints willingness facilitated a process of lining up Miami’s effort to hire Payton.