Durham Smythe

Dolphins Rumors: TEs, Elliott, Punter Competition

The Dolphins didn’t use their tight ends much in the receiving game last year and only really used two tight ends a majority of the time. With half of that duo, Mike Gesicki, departing in free agency this offseason, many were curious how Miami would address the sudden hole on their roster.

The Dolphins return Durham Smythe, who was mainly used as a blocker in their scheme last year, recording only 15 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. Smythe has had more productive seasons in the prior two years, but he still is more feared as a blocker than a receiver. The team also added two veteran free agents in Tyler Kroft and Eric Saubert in the last few months.

None of the three will threaten to provide Miami with a top receiving tight end in the NFL, but with the team’s embarrassment of riches at wide receiver, that’s hardly necessary. The veteran trio should do plenty to perform the duties asked of tight ends in the Dolphins’ offense, while Miami will look to two rookies to perhaps provide some receiving ability to the position room.

The Dolphins used one of their few draft picks on Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins in the sixth round. Higgins, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, will be making the switch to tight end at the NFL level. Higgins told Jackson that 28 of 32 NFL teams saw him as a tight end at the next level, despite his never having played the position before. At 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, Higgins has decent size, needing to gain a few pounds, but had strong production with 1,204 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Cardinal in the last two years.

Undrafted rookie Julian Hill out of Campbell had a strong final year of production, as well. He ended up with 659 yards and five touchdowns in his fifth year with the Camels. The Dolphins had considered looking into the tight end position in the early rounds of the draft, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but they ultimately decided to utilize the free agent market and lower-graded rookies.

They also have the option to re-sign veteran Adam Shaheen who spent his contract year on injured reserve last year. Coming off of knee surgery, Shaheen told Jackson that he “would love to remain with the Dolphins.” For now, though, it seems Miami is content moving forwards with Smythe, Kroft, Saubert, Higgins, Hill, and developmental project Tanner Conner.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of South Beach:

  • The Dolphins made a strong offseason addition in former Ravens and Lions safety DeShon Elliott back in March. The former sixth-round pick developed into a starter in Baltimore but struggled with injuries. His injury struggles continued in Detroit when he missed two late-season games with a shoulder injury before toughing it out in the season finale to eliminate the Packers from postseason contention. Elliott may not return for mandatory minicamp, but according to Jackson, he is expected to be ready for the regular season.
  • After allowing their one-year rental punter, Thomas Morstead, to walk in free agency, Miami signed former division rival Jake Bailey. Bailey missed some time last year due to injury and some team-enforced discipline, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Dolphins brought in some competition for the young specialist. We speculated that undrafted Oklahoma rookie Michael Turk would provide some camp competition for Bailey, and Jackson confirmed as much in a recent report. The Dolphins were eager to bring Turk in, signing the former Sooner soon after the draft ended despite Turk enticing six other NFL offers.

Dolphins Extend TE Durham Smythe

After losing Mike Gesicki in free agency and including Hunter Long in the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Dolphins will prioritize one of their own tight ends. They reached an extension agreement with Durham Smythe on Monday.

The Dolphins are re-upping Smythe on a two-year, $7.75MM deal, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding that this agreement comes with $5.5MM guaranteed at signing. Smythe, 27, is now signed through 2025.

A 2018 fourth-round pick, Smythe has been with the Dolphins throughout his pro career. This extension is similar to the pact he inked last year — a two-year, $7MM accord — but Pelissero adds this one will bump his 2023 pay to $4.5MM. Smythe’s guarantees in his third NFL contract also surpass those in his second ($3.5MM). The Dolphins will undoubtedly add at the tight end position later this offseason, but Smythe’s role may well expand due to Gesicki and Long’s relocations.

Miami selected Smythe two rounds after taking Gesicki five years ago, and the former has proven a better fit in Mike McDaniel‘s offense. Although Gesicki played all 17 regular-season games, Smythe played nearly 100 more offensive snaps. The Notre Dame alum was on the field for 557 of Miami’s offensive plays in 2022, topping Gesicki’s 478. Smythe managed that total despite missing a game.

Like Gesicki, Smythe saw his receiving numbers drop in McDaniel’s offense. He caught 34 passes for 357 yards in 2021 but tallied just 15 catches for 129 yards last season. Pro Football Focus, however, graded Smythe as a top-15 run-blocking tight end. The Dolphins are bringing back their entire backfield, having re-signed Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert and Myles Gaskin in March. Smythe will be tasked with helping this trio again in 2023 and stands to be a part of assisting future Miami rushing attacks.

The Dolphins have Smythe, the recently signed Eric Saubert, and 2022 UDFA Tanner Conner¬†on their roster at tight end. Although an early-round addition should not be ruled out, Smythe will be a key part of McDaniel’s second Dolphins offense.