Dolphins say 'all options still open' regarding potential anthem discipline

Dolphins' protest punishment a 'work in progress' (1:10)

Jeff Darlington expects other NFL teams to follow Miami's lead on a discipline policy but doesn't expect four-game suspensions for players. (1:10)

Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem reportedly could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.

The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public. It classifies anthem protests under a long list of "conduct detrimental to the club," all of which could lead to a paid or unpaid suspension, a fine, or both.

In a statement, the Dolphins confirmed they sent the NFL the document, without offering specifics on what plans it laid out.

"The NFL required each team to submit their rules regarding the anthem before their players reported to training camp," the team said. "We will address this issue once the season starts. All options are still open.''

Sources told ESPN's Jeff Darlington that the Dolphins have not made any internal decisions about the extent to which players will be disciplined for those protests. In addition, a league source said that the Dolphins' submission of potential discipline is standard protocol followed by every team before training camp opens. The Dolphins are among the first to have players (rookies, in this case) report to camp, and so they were among the first to be required to submit the mandatory paperwork.

On the Dolphins' side, sources say that by submitting the paperwork, they are merely delaying their decision on how to handle player discipline for protesting during the anthem. By submitting maximum penalties, they can easily tailor those back. But once the paperwork is submitted, it is the team's understanding that it can't increase potential discipline for detrimental conduct. One source said there is no expectation that a player will be suspended four games -- listed as the maximum possible penalty -- for protesting during the anthem.

Miami's anthem policy comes after the NFL decided in May that teams would be fined if players didn't stand during the national anthem while on the field. The league left the punishment of players up to the teams. None of the team policies has been made public.

The NFLPA went on to file a grievance against the league over the policy. On Thursday night, the sides issued a joint statement, saying they continue to discuss the policy and that "no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks."

The CBA lays out the specific punishment that a team would be able to hand out: "Conduct detrimental to Club -- maximum fine of an amount equal to one week's salary and/or suspension without pay for a period not to exceed four (4) weeks."

Wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Michael Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas knelt during the anthem several times during the 2017 season. Only Stills is with the Dolphins now, as Michael Thomas signed with the New York Giants and Julius Thomas was released. The Dolphins also added defensive end Robert Quinn in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams in March. Quinn has raised his fist in protest during the anthem the past two years.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press contributed to this report.