With Mike Gesicki now halfway through the final year of his rookie contract, will the Dolphins let him hit free agency, or will they look to sign him to an extension? Let’s take a look at how Gesicki has performed during his rookie contract and what a potential extension may look like in terms of salary and overall value.
Mike Gesicki’s numbers have generally improved throughout his rookie contract
It has been an intriguing development for Gesicki throughout his rookie contract. He started his rookie season catching 68.8% of the balls thrown his way at 9.2 yards per reception. In his second season, his yards per reception increased to 11.2, but his catch rate dropped to 57.3%.
The 2020 season saw things improve further. He had a 62.4% catch rate and an average of 13.3 yards per game. However, he still only averaged 5.7 targets per game.
Things have gone to another level this season. In the final year of his rookie contract, Gesicki is averaging 7 targets per game, catching 69.8% of them, and averaging 12 yards per game.
As a second-round selection, Gesicki signed a four-year, $6.6 million contract. His contract contained a $2.9 million signing bonus with a salary increasing from $480,000 as a rookie through to $1.381 million this season.
What might a contract extension for Gesicki look like?
In 2021, only two tight ends have more receptions than Gesicki — Travis Kelce and T.J. Hockenson. In terms of yards, only Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Kyle Pitts are ahead of Gesicki. Assuming those numbers continue, Gesicki and his representation will ask to be paid similar to the company he keeps.
The highest-paid tight end in the league in terms of average salary is George Kittle at $15 million. Kelce is at $14.312 million, and Andrews is at $14 million. At the very minimum, Gesicki is likely looking somewhere between those values and the $8 million per year average salary earned by Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski (tied for 10th-highest-paid TE).
A reasonable expectation is that Gesicki would be looking to sit somewhere around either the $10.5 million per year or the $12.5 million per year earned by Austin Hooper, Jonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry.
Outside of Kittle, all of those deals are either three or four years, so that is likely the length Gesicki would look for. Additionally, the Dolphins would potentially have to guarantee the first two years of a deal. The question is whether Gesicki is worth that commitment.
The Dolphins might want to exercise caution before offering a new contract
There is no denying Gesicki has been one of the bright spots of Miami’s offense. However, that might say more about the Dolphins’ offensive options than it does about Gesicki as a tight end in the NFL.
Among tight ends with 20 or more targets, Gesicki ranks 17th in terms of catch rate. While he only has three drops in his career, his Offensive Value Metric gives some insight into his struggles.
Gesicki’s OVM numbers
Among qualified players at the position, only Cameron Brate has a lower OVM than Gesicki. OVM uses Next Gen Stats to grade players based on performance elements within their control. Gesicki has the second-worst separation distance at the position (2.6 yards) despite having the second-best cushion distance (6.7 yards).
On top of that, Gesicki is not making the most of his opportunities once the ball is in his hands. His -0.9 yards after the catch per reception differential is the third-lowest at tight end this season. All of these issues, when stacked on top of each other, suggest that not only is Gesicki not a difference-maker at the position, he might actually be below average.