Just what was the purpose of Dolphins' short-lived pursuit of Tom Brady? | Habib

Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post

Allow me to ask a question I never thought I’d ask.

It concerns the ember growing into a wildfire over the direction the Dolphins are headed, or, more accurately, thought they were headed.

As the story goes, and there’s plenty of reason to say it’s accurate, until Brian Flores filed his lawsuit, the Dolphins were plotting to bring Tom Brady aboard as a minority owner, hire Sean Payton as head coach, then watch as Brady ripped off his shirt and tie to reveal an aqua and orange No. 12 jersey (sorry, Bob Griese).

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Let me also preface my question by pointing out that I, for years, have chuckled at reports of Brady’s diminishing skills. I also have found it impossible to dislike the guy and suspect many who do would have a tougher time explaining why than they think. Finally, I was saddened to hear of his “retirement” after the 2021 season because my eyes told me he was playing at a level as high as ever, which, of course, translates to the greatest the NFL has ever witnessed.

But the Dolphins chasing Tom Brady?


Is Brady, who will be 45 next season, a fit? It sounds like a crazy question — wouldn’t Brady be a fit anywhere? — but this one requires a closer look. By “fit,” do we mean as, duh, the starting quarterback? Front-office exec? Both?

Tom Brady arriving would have meant Tua Tagovailoa leaving

Let’s start with QB. Brady arriving likely would have meant Tua Tagovailoa leaving — and the Dolphins taking a hit on what they get for him. Brady is coming off a season with 5,316 yards, 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He’s obviously in fantastic shape for someone his age, or any age. But time is undefeated. It can strike quickly.

In short: No way the Dolphins go down this road with the idea Brady would be more than a one- or two-year rental at QB.

So maybe part of the allure is having Brady come aboard as a minority owner. He’s buddies with owner-in-waiting Bruce Beal, remember. They have socialized together, raising the issue for some of whether that constitutes tampering. In reality, maybe it does. Also in reality, the NFL has zero chance of either proving it or policing it.

Still, is Brady sitting in an owner’s box supposed to register with the average fan? Another stroll down the infamous orange carpet with Fergie and the Williams sisters and Marc Anthony?

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady threw for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns last season.

The pursuit of Payton before Mike McDaniel was hired, I probably have no problem with. This too must be couched because although he’s one of the most creative offensive minds in the game, the caveats are whether he would rather stay retired and what New Orleans’ price would be for his rights.

Since we’re on the subject of rights, let’s also not forget that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be raising their hand, saying, “What about us?” on Brady compensation.

The Dolphins have two first-rounders in 2023 to work with, but their draft capital would dwindle if the Tom & Sean plot panned out. Acquiring those two might also have eaten into Miami’s 2024 draft stock, meaning that when Brady did retire from the Dolphins, they would have had significantly less ammunition to nab the most-coveted quarterbacks.

As for on the field, Brady was sacked only 22 times last season. Let’s see him duplicate that and stay healthy in Miami, even if the Dolphins beefed up their offensive line.

Dolphins are built to win now, but also for the long term

Plus, look at the bigger picture. The Dolphins entered last season with only four 30-somethings. The only team with fewer, believe it or not, were the Rams with three. South Florida is eager to see this team win now, but the Dolphins also are built for sustainability. Players 25 or younger include Jevon Holland, Jaelan Phillips, Jaylen Waddle, Raekwon Davis, Brandon Jones, Jerome Baker, Rob Hunt and Nik Needham.

In short, the Dolphins embody the vision laid out Dec. 31, 2018, by owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier, in that famous news conference in which they said they’re tired of hovering around 8-8, tired of making the playoffs only occasionally and tired of slumping back to mediocrity when they do.

“I think we really have to take a different approach in how we do it,” Ross said at the time. “What you want and what I want, is really sustained winning seasons and having an organization that is used to winning, because that’s what people in Miami expect. That’s what the fans want and the fans deserve.”

This should not be considered a full endorsement of Tagovailoa. He has much to prove before anybody can say he’s the answer. He has a diminishing amount of time in which to do it.

As for TB12? Love watching you play, Tom. Maybe you could have done a Lombardi Trophy toss while cruising up the Intracoastal, I don't know.

Sadly, this just isn’t the time to find out.