The Dolphins used their franchise tag on Mike Gesicki last year and proceeded to minimize his role. Tight end-needy teams can now count on the sixth-year veteran being available in March.
Gesicki is expected to hit the market and leave Miami, Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com notes (video link). This comes after the receiving tight end’s numbers cratered in Mike McDaniel‘s offense. After this proved to be a poor fit, the former second-round pick will test the waters once the legal tampering period begins March 13.
Last year brought three tight end tags, but after the Browns extended David Njoku, the other two (Gesicki, Dalton Schultz) played on the tag. The Schultz-Cowboys talks brought steady updates, but little came out about the Dolphins’ negotiations with Gesicki. That proved telling, as the team ended up paying the $10.9MM tag price for a 362-yard receiving season. Gesicki’s targets plummeted from 112 in 2021 to 52 last season.
Trade rumors emerged before the season started, as it became clear the Dolphins were changing Gesicki’s role. But the team held onto him. While Gesicki said he was happy staying in Miami ahead of the trade deadline, a better role likely awaits him elsewhere.
Drafted during Adam Gase’s time as head coach, Gesicki became a steady contributor during the Brian Flores–Chris Grier partnership. As the Dolphins cycled through offensive coordinators, the Penn State product became the team’s most consistent weapon from 2019-21. He eclipsed 700 receiving yards in 2020 and ’21. With Tyreek Hill in the fold, the Dolphins’ offense changed. Hill and Jaylen Waddle became the expected focal points, but McDaniel’s offense called for more Gesicki blocking. Although Kyle Shanahan‘s 49ers offense regularly receives production from George Kittle, the latter is one of the best blockers at his position. Pro Football Focus rated Gesicki as one of the league’s worst run-blocking tight ends last season.
Gesicki, 27, may well have had better luck on the market had the Dolphins not tagged him last year. Now, he is coming off an unproductive year. The 6-foot-6 pass catcher should still fare decently in free agency, with the cap rising by nearly $17MM, but it will be interesting to see who is willing to bet on his receiving talent this year.
Schultz, Hayden Hurst, Austin Hooper, Evan Engram and Robert Tonyan are among the tight ends on track to hit the market. The Jaguars want to bring back Engram, who could soon become the latest tight end tagged. That would benefit Gesicki and Co., thinning the talent pool. McDaniel’s team will likely be on the lookout for a replacement. Hunter Long remains on a rookie deal; he did not catch a pass last season. Durham Smythe is signed through 2023. While PFF graded Smythe as one of the league’s top run-blocking tight ends last season, Gesicki’s departure would leave the Dolphins with little in terms of proven receiving talent at the position.