Dolphins Franchise Tag TE Mike Gesicki: Value, next steps, and likelihood of long-term extension

The Miami Dolphins have placed the franchise tag on Mike Gesicki ahead of the 4 PM ET deadline. What's next for the star tight end?

The Miami Dolphins slapped tight end Mike Gesicki with the franchise tag on Tuesday, just a few hours before the league’s annual deadline, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Gesicki, who was set to become a free agent later this month, will now be under the control of the Dolphins, who could seek a long-term deal with the tight end or attempt to trade him for immediate value.

Dolphins place franchise tag on Mike Gesicki

While Gesicki is technically still under the control of the Dolphins, if the franchise tag is of the non-exclusive variety, he can still negotiate with other teams. That said, the return for a franchise player is two first-round picks. So, the odds of Gesicki finding a legitimate offer sheet are thin. Still, the Dolphins can seek a trade partner — with the help of Gesicki — and get a deal done for less if they so choose.

Gesicki will be due a guaranteed one-year, $10.93 million deal if he signs the franchise tag. That could give him leverage for a long-term pact with the Dolphins, who are flush with salary cap space entering the first year of the Mike McDaniel era.

If the Dolphins see Gesicki as a fit for the long-term growth of the offense, both sides could look to get a contract done, with the franchise tag simply serving as a placeholder for that deal. The tag gives Gesicki leverage and the Dolphins insurance entering the new league year.

Gesicki was drafted in 2018 by the Dolphins and has appeared in 64 games over the past four years. He has accumulated 199 receptions for 2,255 yards and 13 touchdowns.

There was talk that he would be on the outs in Miami given McDaniel’s heavy run scheme, but it appears the Dolphins are comfortable enough with him for at least the 2022 season.

With Gesicki off the open market, tight end class should cash in

Pro Football Network reported earlier this month that Gesicki and Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku were viewed as franchise tag candidates by their respective teams. Neither tag is particularly surprising, but the statuses of Gesicki and Njoku will impact the tight end market in free agency.

With Gesicki and Njoku out of the mix, Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz — another franchise tag candidate — becomes the top impending unrestricted free agent at the position. Several teams are in need of tight end upgrades, and Schultz is coming off a career season.

Over the past two seasons, Schultz has outperformed Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert, who signed a massive contract extension in November. Schultz should be able to meet or exceed the value of Goedert’s four-year, $57 million pact.

Along with Schultz, veteran tight end Zach Ertz could benefit from Njoku and Gesicki receiving the tag. Gesicki and Njoku are both known as receiver-focused tight ends, as is Ertz, so their markets would have clashed. Ertz, even on the wrong side of 30, is coming off a comeback season, as he excelled once he was traded by the Eagles to the Arizona Cardinals in October. His value on the market should be enhanced with Gesicki and Njoku watching from the free agency sideline.

Other tight ends like Hayden Hurst of the Atlanta Falcons, O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and C.J. Uzomah of the Cincinnati Bengals should benefit from a less crowded pool as well. If Schultz receives the franchise tag as well, the remaining group should feel good about its prospects.

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