Mike Gesicki

Patriots To Sign TE Mike Gesicki

5:17pm: The Patriots will land Gesicki for just $4.5MM in base value, AtoZsports.com’s Doug Kyed tweets. While the ex-Dolphin has another $4.5MM available via incentives, this base is less than half the money he made on the tag in 2022. The former second-round pick will see $3.5MM guaranteed.

8:52am: Two of this market’s top pass catchers available will end up in New England. After agreeing to terms with JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Patriots are adding Mike Gesicki to their 2023 equation.

The former Dolphins tight end agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $9MM, Adam Schefter and Field Yates of ESPN.com report. Gesicki will join a Patriots team that just traded one of its recent big-ticket tight end acquisitions — Jonnu Smith — to the Falcons.

Friday morning’s agreement will reunite Gesicki with new Pats offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, whom Yates notes recruited the talented tight end back when he was head coach at Penn State. Gesicki’s Nittany Lions career ended up landing him on the second-round radar, leading to a Dolphins 2018 investment. O’Brien, however, never ended up coaching Gesicki at the Big Ten school. He soon left for his Texans HC gig in 2014.

While Dalton Schultz has not joined a team yet, Gesicki’s deal does not match his 2022 salary on the franchise tag. Jessie Bates scored a monster payday from the Falcons, while Orlando Brown Jr. accepted a Bengals deal with a lower AAV compared to what the Chiefs offered before last summer’s tag deadline. But the talented tackle still received $31MM guaranteed. Gesicki will be tied to a “prove it” deal following his disappointing season on the tag.

Despite tagging Gesicki at the $10.9MM tight end price last year, the Dolphins diminished his role. After back-to-back 700-plus-yard receiving seasons, Gesicki managed just 32 catches for 362 yards. Gesicki’s targets plummeted from 112 in 2021 to 52 last season — 28th among tight ends. But Gesicki’s 1,483 yards from 2020-21 ranked fifth among tight ends in that span. The Patriots will pair Gesicki with Hunter Henry, and the former’s deal will not cost them what it did to add Smith two years ago.

Even before last season, it was easy to see Gesicki would not be an optimal fit in Mike McDaniel‘s offense. The former profiles as a big wide receiver, and his role minimization came as McDaniel sought a tight end with better blocking skills. Bill Belichick categorized Gesicki as a big wideout when asked about facing him in the past, and it will be safe to assume he and O’Brien are planning to capitalize on the 6-foot-6 tight end’s receiving skills more than McDaniel did in 2022.

Gesicki, 27, came into the 2022 offseason with more momentum; he likely would have scored a multiyear deal had the Dolphins not tagged him. The Patriots will gauge his fit, and Gesicki will need to fare better in 2023 in order to score a bigger guarantee on the 2024 market. Or, the Patriots, who are entering Year 3 with Henry, could end up working out an extension. They will have exclusive negotiating rights with the former trade candidate until March 2024.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki Expected To Leave In Free Agency

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 FloresChris 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.

Trade Notes: Gesicki, Hawks, Commanders

Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki recently emerged as a potential trade candidate. The tight end doesn’t seem overly focused on the latest rumblings, telling reporters that he hasn’t asked the front office for clarity about the report.

“No,” Gesicki responded when asked if he’s reached out to the Dolphins (h/t Joe Schad of The Palm Beach Post). “I mean, I think I just kind of like I said, I just kind of go about my business. Whatever happens, happens. And I’ve been here for five years now. I love it here. I’m happy to be here. And if I stay here, which I mean, I would assume, I would. I’m excited to continue to be here, make plays and you know, help the team win and move forward and all that kind of stuff for the rest of season.”

Gesicki is coming off his best game of the season, with the tight end hauling in six catches for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Vikings. However, the 27-year-old has been limited to only 101 yards in his other five appearances, with receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle commanding the bulk of the targets. Despite his inconsistent offensive role, Gesicki made it clear that he hasn’t asked for a trade.

“Nah,” Gesicki said when asked if he’s requested a trade.” I mean, I think these coaches also understand what I’m capable of. And I think, you know, Sunday was a good, you know, showing of that just, you know, a couple of opportunities to go out there and make plays. And that was my thing. I don’t know when the opportunity is gonna come, but I gotta keep preparing as if they’re gonna come.”

More trade notes from around the NFL…

  • The Seahawks have made cornerback Sidney Jones available, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. While the organization would prefer to keep the veteran, they’re willing to listen to offers with Jones buried on the depth chart. Michael Jackson and Tariq Woolen are holding down the fort as the outside cornerbacks, and Tre Brown will eventually work his way back into the lineup. Jones is playing on a one-year deal following a career season in 2021. In 16 games (11 starts) for Seattle, the cornerback compiled 66 tackles and 10 passes defended.
  • Speaking of Seattle, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times can’t envision the Seahawks making a significant move at the trade deadline. While Seattle has made deadline moves in the past, the team currently seems focused on building their core from within. The team also has little cap space to work with, making a big splash unlikely.
  • Following his benching in Week 5, it was reported that Commanders cornerback William Jackson could be looking for a fresh start elsewhere. However, the defensive back denied reports that he wants to be traded (per ESPN’s John Keim on Twitter). Jackson was ruled out for Week 6 with a back injury, and it sounds like he’s unlikely to play in Week 7. Jackson is attached to a three-year, $40.5MM deal, but teams have expressed interest ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.
  • The Panthers were planning to cut Robbie Anderson before they found a taker in the Cardinals, reports ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Considering the prospect of just eating his salary, the Panthers made out well in the deal, securing a 2024 sixth-round pick and a 2025 seventh-round pick from Arizona.

Dolphins Willing To Entertain Mike Gesicki Trade Offers

Expectations were high for the Dolphins’ passing attack this season, in no small part due to the arrivals of wideout Tyreek Hill and head coach Mike McDaniel. A familiar face in the team’s offense has taken a back seat, however, leading to his name being included in trade talk.

Tight end Mike Gesicki has gone from one of the unit’s focal points to a rotational member this season. The 27-year-old has made just 15 catches through six weeks in 2022, totaling 170 yards and three touchdowns. His proficiency as a receiver – and, more importantly, his lack thereof as a blocker – led to expectations that he could see a reduced workload within McDaniel’s system.

In late August, it was reported that Miami was open to the possibility of trading Gesicki, a further reflection of his presumed fall down the pecking order behind Hill and 2021 first-rounder Jaylen Waddle. Not much appears to have changed on that front; ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Dolphins remain willing to field trade offers on Gesicki. He does add, on the other hand, that Miami is not actively shopping the Penn State alum at this time.

Complicating matters is the fact that Gesicki is playing on the franchise tag this season, valued in his case at $10.9MM. That figure didn’t stop a pair of teams from calling about his availability before the regular season began, but would represent a difficult expense for an acquiring to justify given his underwhelming production so far. As Fowler points out, many around the league remain perplexed by Gesicki’s lack of usage given the team’s one-year investment in him.

Long-term contract talks never seemed to be in the picture this offseason, leaving Gesicki’s 2023 destination a question mark to begin with. Whether he can up his receiving numbers – especially with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa expected to be back for Week 7 – will be worth watching in the short term, given the effect it could have on his trade value.

Dolphins GM: TE Mike Gesicki Not Being Shopped; Two Teams Inquired

Mike Gesicki‘s name came up in trade rumors last week, with those coming months after the Dolphins used their franchise tag to keep him off the market. GM Chris Grier did not rule out a move Tuesday, but the team is not planning one.

Grier said the Dolphins are not shopping their tagged tight end, via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe, but added that two teams called about his availability (Twitter link). Gesicki’s tag fully guarantees him $10.9MM, though it does not mandate that salary come from the Dolphins.

Tag-and-trade sequences happen fairly frequently, and they have been known to come late in the summer. Jadeveon Clowney was moved just before the 2019 deadline, and Yannick Ngakoue was traded twice during his 2020 tagged year — before the season and during it. Gesicki may not await the same fate, but this year has been an adjustment for the fifth-year pass catcher.

Mike McDaniel’s heavily Shanahan-influenced scheme will require more Gesicki blocking than he is accustomed to, and the Penn State product called his role in this offense a new position. Since tagging Gesicki, the Dolphins also loaded up at receiver by trading for Tyreek Hill and signing Cedrick Wilson Jr. That duo, along with Jaylen Waddle, is expected to be ahead of Gesicki in Miami’s aerial pecking order. That will mark a change, after Gesicki put together back-to-back 700-plus-yard seasons. He finished as the Dolphins’ second-leading pass catcher, behind Waddle, in 2021.

Keeping Gesicki to aid Tua Tagovailoa in what might be a make-or-break year, considering the other Dolphins QB-related headlines to emerge in recent months, would seem wise for Miami. But Grier has also not been shy to make deals if the right offer surfaces. In his first year in power, Grier dealt away Ryan Tannehill, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Fitzpatrick swap also came about because of a positional issue. This year’s trade deadline is Nov. 1.

Dolphins Open To Trading TE Mike Gesicki?

Mike Gesicki‘s 2022 role may not feature same level of prominence compared to his place in the past two Dolphins offenses. The Dolphins added a new No. 1 wide receiver (Tyreek Hill) and signed Cedrick Wilson. Hill, Wilson and Jaylen Waddle are expected to be ahead of Gesicki in the Mike McDaniel offense’s aerial pecking order.

The Dolphins have brought up the franchise-tagged tight end’s name as a potential trade chip, according to Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed. A former second-round pick going into his fifth season, Gesicki has pieced together back-to-back 700-plus-yard receiving seasons as one of Tua Tagovailoa‘s top targets. He finished second behind only Waddle in Dolphins receiving yards (780) in 2021, but Kyed notes the Dolphins have been willing to discuss their starting tight end in deals.

Although the Dolphins tagged Gesicki, the offseason negotiations brought the lowest-key talks of any of this year’s tagged players. Gesicki, 26, signed his tender early, but notable talks are not believed to have occurred. He is attached to the same guaranteed $10.9MM salary as Dalton Schultz, but the Cowboys tight end is expected to play a major role — if not a bigger one, as Dallas is battling multiple major receiver injuries — in his team’s offense.

McDaniel’s offense will involve more blocking than Gesicki is used to, and the Palm Beach Post’s Hal Habib wonders if the Dolphins tagged the former second-round pick as a means to collect assets when the right trade offer emerges. The Dolphins left Gesicki in last week’s preseason game longer than many starters, having him play the entire first half. That could also be due to Gesicki learning what he has called a new position.

The Dolphins tagged Gesicki before signing Wilson and knowing if Hill would be available. The Hill market did not materialize until Davante Adams‘ $28MM-per-year Raiders extension came to pass March 18. Miami acquired the Kansas City star March 23. Miami also has veteran Durham Smythe and 2021 third-round pick Hunter Long on its roster. Neither has shown nearly as much as Gesicki in the passing game, however, and dealing away one of Tagovailoa’s favorite targets in what could be a make-or-break season for the starting quarterback would be a gamble.

If Gesicki truly is available, this would be an interesting use of the tag, which has kept an eight-figure cap hold on the Dolphins’ payroll for five-plus months. A season in which Gesicki sees fewer targets could also depress his value, though his 2020 and ’21 outings would still point to the young pass catcher being coveted next year in free agency. This could be an interesting subplot to follow ahead of Week 1 and perhaps up to the midseason trade deadline.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gesicki, Lawson

Jake Bailey signed an extension with the Patriots earlier this month, and we’re now getting details on the punter’s new deal. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter), Bailey earned a four-year pact worth $13.125MM, with $6.275MM of that deal fully guaranteed.

Bailey got a raise on his 2022 salary, jumping from $3.986MM to $4.5MM. The move lowered his cap number, however, reducing it from $4.058MM to $2.025MM. Next year, Bailey’s cap number will increase to $3.415MM before going to $3.79MM in both 2024 and 2025.

“I’m just so happy and blessed I get a few more years here,” Bailey said last week (via the team’s website). “I was just kind of on the phone with my agent and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re good with that,’ and it wasn’t like a crazy big moment. But it was fine and a huge milestone in my life and just thankful God put me in this position.”

The 2019 fifth-round pick out of Stanford has spent his entire career in New England, including a 2020 campaign where he earned first-team All-Pro honors.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • While you should never put too much stock into preseason depth charts, Volin points out on Twitter that the Patriots‘ initial depth chart shows that the team is committing to Trent Brown at left tackle and Isaiah Wynn at right tackle. The two offensive lineman are swapping positions following a 2021 campaign that mostly saw Wynn at LT and Brown at RT.
  • Mike Gesicki leads the Dolphins in receptions since the beginning of the 2019 campaign, but the tight end may find himself as a secondary target for Tua Tagovailoa in 2022. As Adam H. Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com points out, Gesicki will likely be fourth in line for targets behind wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson. As new head coach Mike McDaniel noted, the offense won’t try to force the ball to the tight end, but there will surely be situations where the team is counting on Gesicki to contribute. “It’s something that we’ve talked to the tight ends about at length — it comes in waves,” McDaniel told Beasley. “There have been practices where he’s got seven or eight … he had more targets maybe Practice 7 — it was 7 or 8 — than Tyreek had. It’s just one of those things that you try in the game of football, especially when you are a pass receiver at any position, to really focus on what you can control. You can’t control the defenses. You can’t control the progression. You can’t control the pass rush.”
  • Veteran defensive end Shaq Lawson is back in Buffalo after re-joining the organization this offseason. Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic expects Lawson to ultimately make the Bills 53-man roster, but he’s fallen behind the likes of A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham on the depth chart and will likely serve as the team’s fifth defensive end. The 28-year-old started seven games for the Jets in 2021, collecting 23 tackles and one sack.
  • If Tre’Davious White isn’t ready for the start of the regular season, then there’s a good chance the Bills will be starting a rookie cornerback opposite Dane Jackson. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, first-round rookie Kaiir Elam would be a natural choice, but he’s struggled during training camp. As a result, sixth-round rookie Christian Benford could find himself in the starting lineup come Week 1.

Franchise Tag Roundup: Bengals, Chiefs, Cowboys, Dolphins Table Talks To 2023

For the first time since 2018, the summer franchise tag deadline day did not produce an extension. The past three years brought deadline-day deals for Taylor Moton, Derrick Henry, Chris Jones, Grady Jarrett and Robbie Gould. None of the four teams who still had tagged players could hammer out a deal Friday, however.

Bengals safety Jessie Bates, Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki and Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz remain attached to their franchise tag prices ($12.9MM, $16.7MM, $10.9MM, $10.9MM, respectively). They are prevented from negotiating with their teams again until the 2022 season ends. The four teams can apply second franchise tags to these players in 2023, at 120% of their 2022 tag prices.

  • The Chiefs and Brown came closest to a deal. Although the Chiefs reached an extension agreement with Frank Clark upon trading a first-round pick and change for him in 2019, they postponed Brown negotiations last year. When the sides came to the table, after Brown earned a Pro Bowl nod for his first season as a full-time left tackle, the fifth-year blocker had a new agent and wanted a deal that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman. The Chiefs were willing to go there, but on their terms. What amounts to a dummy year in the contract’s final season led Brown to turn down a six-year, $139MM extension offer. Although failed tag talks often lead to separations the following year, it would surprise if the Chiefs — considering the compensation they parted with for Brown in 2021 — did not make a strong effort to extend Brown in 2023.
  • Less clarity emerged with the other three tag negotiations, but the Bengals‘ five-year offer and reported guarantee of around $17MM — which would be a fringe top-10 mark at the safety position — did not bring Bates to sign an extension. The fifth-year defender wanted to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Minkah Fitzpatrick moved that number to $18.2MM per year this summer. Bates expressed interest in re-signing with the Bengals in 2021, after he posted a strong 2020 season. Following a less impactful 2021 regular season, Bates rebounded with critical playoff contributions. The Bengals, who drafted safety Daxton Hill in Round 1 and have Vonn Bell under contract for one more season, may be willing to let Bates test free agency a year from now. But Bell’s contract-year status may well keep Bates in the fold beyond 2022.
  • A lot of Schultz news came out this offseason, including a late rumor of a possible deal coming to fruition. But scant optimism about a Cowboys long-term deal surfaced. Dallas cuffed its top tight end and, with Schultz having signed his tender, he can be fined daily for not reporting to training camp. Although Schultz left OTAs to make a point about negotiations, he showed for Cowboys minicamp. The sides, however, appeared far apart. Ahead of Friday’s deadline, they had not negotiated in weeks. Contract length was an issue for Schultz’s camp. While Dak Prescott‘s contract is an exception, the Cowboys prefer five- or six-year extensions. No deadline-day magic occurred, and Schultz may become a bigger part of Dallas’ offense, with the team having traded Amari Cooper shortly after tagging its tight end.
  • It does not sound like substantial Gesicki-Dolphins talks occurred this offseason. Though, Gesicki was interested in an extension. After the former second-round pick broke through for a 703-yard, six-touchdown 2020 season, the team did not make an extension ahead of his 2021 contract year a priority. Gesicki then posted a 780-yard slate. That was enough to move Miami to keep the Penn State product off the free agent market. Gesicki should play a key part in a critical Tua Tagovailoa season, but with Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year contract now on Miami’s books, other Dolphins skill players may be affected.

The Browns (David Njoku), Buccaneers (Chris Godwin), Jaguars (Cam Robinson) and Packers (Davante Adams) saw their tagged players land extensions. Adams’ money, of course, came from the Raiders, who gave their new All-Pro weapon a five-year, $140MM extension — a deal that impacted Hill’s Chiefs talks and one that has two lofty nonguaranteed salaries in its final two years — after Adams voiced a preference to reunite with Derek Carr out west. Njoku becoming the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid tight end, after not matching either of Gesicki or Schultz’s best seasons, likely became an issue in the Cowboys and Dolphins’ respective negotiations.

Bates and Brown have not signed their tenders. This would allow each to skip training camp without being fined. The 2020 CBA prevents teams from waiving fines for holdouts, pointing to Gesicki and Schultz showing up. Bates is not expected to attend camp, and Brown hinted at staying away for a while. The Bengals and Chiefs’ tagged performers have until Nov. 15 to sign their tenders, or they cannot play in 2022. Multiple defensive linemen (Sean Gilbert and Dan Williams, the latter a Chiefs tag recipient) followed through with skipping seasons after being tagged in the late 1990s, but Le’Veon Bell (2018) is the only player to pass on a guaranteed salary by skipping a full season while attached to the tag this century.

TEs Dalton Schultz, Mike Gesicki Expected To Play On Franchise Tags

As the deadline for franchise tag recipients continues to draw near, there has been a noteworthy (if unsurprising) development regarding the two tight ends yet to sign a long-term deal. In a pair of tweets, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that neither Dalton Schultz nor Mike Gesicki are expected to reach agreement with their respective teams on a new contract. 

No talks have taken place between Schultz and the Cowboys in weeks, so it was reported days ago that nothing was considered to be imminent in terms of a last-minute deal being finalized. While the door had been opened to the possibility of such a scenario materializing, this news is in line with what had been expected throughout the offseason.

Schultz wouldn’t have been on the tag radar after his first two seasons in Dallas. The former fourth-rounder had totalled just 13 scoreless receptions by the start of the 2020 season. Since then, however, he has received 193 targets, accrued 1,423 yards and racked up 12 scores. Dallas has obviously not been able to put together a multi-year offer close enough to Schultz’s perceived value, however.

In Gesicki’s case, it was likewise reported recently that an extension was unlikely at this late stage of the negotiating window. The 26-year-old entered the league with more pedigree compared to Schultz from his college days, and has been a consistent contributor in Miami’s passing game for longer. He posted new career highs in receptions (73) and yards (780) in 2021, continuing his ascending production.

“I am absolutely open to negotiation, but it’s not really up to me,” he said in April, when asked about contract talks. “If they reach out, my agent will be listening.” Not much progress has been made since then, as the Dolphins seem prepared to let 2022 play out with Gesicki perhaps falling down the pecking order in a pass-catching corps which now includes Tyreek Hill.

By remaining on the tag – which, unlike Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and Bengals safety Jessie Bates, both Schultz and Gesicki have signed – the pair will each earn $10.93MM. That could constitute considerable value at a position whose market has been elevated by deals such as the one signed by fellow tag recipient David Njoku, who has less of a track record of success. A second tag next season would cost roughly $13.12MM, which still wouldn’t rank in the top-five at the position. Attention will now turn to Brown and Bates to see if last-minute deals can be reached with their respective teams.