Why Don’t the Miami Dolphins Have a 2023 First-Round Pick?

The Miami Dolphins went from having two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft to none. How did they manage that?

The Miami Dolphins do not have a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Chris Grier has been busy building Miami’s roster, and extracurricular activities led by Dolphins’ vice chairman Bruce Beal also played a significant role in the team-building process. Now, Miami will have only five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. How we did get there?

How Did the Miami Dolphins Get 2 First-Round Picks in 2023?

The Miami Dolphins originally had multiple first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the story about how we got there is a winding road of team-building that could twist one’s brain into linguini.

The 2020 Dolphins finished 10-6, so how then did they end up with the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Well, on Sept. 1, 2019, the Dolphins traded Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans in exchange for Houston’s 2020 first-round pick, their 2021 first-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick. Miami also received Johnson Bademosi and Julie’n Davenport as part of the deal. In the deal, Houston received Tunsil, Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick, and a 2021 sixth-round pick.

MORE: Miami Dolphins Draft Prospects To Target at 2023 NFL Combine

So when the 2021 NFL Draft came around, Miami was swimming in the waters of an incredibly hyped quarterback class among approximately five teams that were looking for the services of a young gunslinger.

Miami, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Dallas ended up playing musical chairs inside the top 12 of the NFL draft. San Francisco traded their first-round picks in the next three drafts, plus their 2022 third-round pick for the right to draft Trey Lance with the third overall pick.

In essence, the Tunsil trade was providing value well past its initial end date, because Miami was willing to part ways with that pick to acquire more future draft capital. Collecting inexpensive draft picks, particularly on Day 1, is never a poor decision.

What Happened to Those First-Round Picks?

Well, it turns out Beal had been a very bad boy. After a daunting sixth-month investigation into the Dolphins organization, the NFL concluded that Miami had participated in a spot of tampering. It was not the “legal” tampering we see in the 48 hours before free agency. This was the secret telephone calls and yacht trips kind, allegedly.

Miami was simping for Tom Brady. There aren’t many better adjectives to use for their pursuit of the quarterback than the one Gen Z has coined. This was not a one-time affair. The Dolphins were like the faceless married father of two direct messaging the Instagram model every night before bed.

Miami made inappropriate contact with Brady in both 2019 as a member of the Patriots and in 2021 as a Buccaneer. The latter involved both Beal and owner Stephen Ross. The talks involved Brady becoming a limited partner or an executive for the team, but they also wanted the G.O.A.T. to play quarterback in Miami.

It turns out the Dolphins wanted to build a dream team because they weren’t done tampering. They also contacted Don Yee, who is ironically Brady’s agent, about another one of his clients. Miami wanted Sean Payton to be their head coach in 2022. They contacted Yee about Payton while the coach was still under contract with the Saints.

NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell did not mince words when levying punishment.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” Goodell said. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”

Miami was stripped of their 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick. Ross was suspended through Oct. 17, 2022, and was fined $1.5 million. Beal was also fined $500,0000 and was banned from attending any league meetings in 2022.

MORE: Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier Talks Tua Tagovailoa Contract Extension, Byron Jones, and Cap Plans

Draft picks are incredibly important to the construction of a roster. But Ross believed that even though drafting elite football players inside the top 32 is important, he’d accept the punishment that he disagreed with to… avoid distractions.

“With regards to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment. 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.”

The second of Miami’s first-round picks — from the 49ers — was traded to the Denver Broncos at the trade deadline. The Dolphins wanted to bolster their underperforming defense, so they added Bradley Chubb before immediately extending him to a five-year extension worth $110 million. While that amount seems excessive for the player, the contract’s structure gives Miami a lot of freedom after the 2024 NFL season.

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