Will the Dolphins Re-Sign Mike Gesicki? Why Gesicki’s Contract Won’t Work for Miami

Will the Miami Dolphins re-sign or franchise tag tight end Mike Gesicki? We break down why Gesicki's' contract doesn't make sense for the Dolphins.

The 2023 NFL offseason is set to bring massive changes across the league. The last two offseasons saw an unprecedented number of trades take place that involved star players and quarterbacks. This year’s slate of free agents is weak at receiver and tight end, so the available players may cash in.

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki is atop the list of available pass-catching playmakers. Let’s break down why the Dolphins aren’t likely to re-sign Gesicki, where he could end up, and what his contract could look like.

Why Re-Signing Mike Gesicki Doesn’t Make Sense for the Dolphins

Miami’s handling of Gesicki’s 2022 free agency was surprising, as new head coach Mike McDaniel had worked with more traditional in-line blockers who could also catch. The Dolphins went all-in on their offense despite Gesicki’s noted lack of blocking skill, choosing to franchise tag him for $10.9 million over losing him for nothing in free agency.

Had Miami continued to target him as they had from 2019 through 2021, he would’ve been worth it. Instead, Gesicki’s usage has wavered between non-existent and occasional. Outside of his six-reception, 69-yard, and two-touchdown performance in Week 6 against Minnesota, Gesicki’s been barely utilized. He’s played 49% of the offensive snaps despite being healthy all season.

It’s hard to find a worse pair of free agent investments than Miami made into Gesicki and Cedrick Wilson Jr., who count for a combined $15.65 million against the cap this year. It’s not that either is a bad player, but the Dolphins’ refusal to get Gesicki involved despite his rare athleticism for the position and ability to offer McDaniel new options is a missed opportunity.

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There’s a clear disconnect between what the team had hoped for him and the reality of how Gesicki plays. Dolphins TE coach Jon Embree communicated as much in early October, saying he wants a tight end who takes pride in blocking more than receptions. If Miami wanted that archetype of tight end, they could’ve allowed Gesicki to walk last year and replace him at a much lower cost.

Neither party should have an interest in continuing their relationship based on Gesicki’s usage this season. Miami is also cap-strapped, so handing Gesicki a large contract further inhibits their ability to make meaningful upgrades elsewhere.

Teams That Could Be Interested in Mike Gesicki

Being on the franchise tag establishes a high baseline for Gesicki, even if he’s not having an impressive year. He’s played well when given the chance, and suitors know he’s essentially a big slot receiver instead of a traditional tight end.

Teams will have to overlook stretches like his three-game run from Week 12 through Week 14, where he totaled four targets and zero receptions.

Turning 28 next October, Gesicki has the 10th-highest salary at his position while on the franchise tag. He’s a solid player but not foundational, putting him into a tough situation. Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz is also a free agent and will be a more attractive option if Dallas can’t lock him up before hitting the market.

Assuming Dallas retains Schultz, there are only a handful of teams with a clear need for the position.

Chicago makes the most sense, as they lead the NFL with more than $120 million in cap space and a dire need for pass catchers, even with TE Cole Kmet. The Giants, Texans, and Bengals also have the blend of money and need for someone of Gesicki’s skill. Tampa Bay could be intriguing if Tom Brady returns.

The nature of Gesicki’s game allows for more flexibility than a traditional tight end. This can be a positive if utilized correctly, as Miami did throughout his rookie contract.

What Is Mike Gesicki’s Market Value?

Its possible suitors look at David Njoku’s optimistic extension from Cleveland that netted him $13.67 million per year and do the same for Gesicki, but it’s also possible Gesicki would make closer to Zach Ertz’s $10.55 million salary if there are concerns of his blocking struggles.

I think it’s likely we see a deal structured similarly to Dawson Knox’s deal with Buffalo. The Bills extended Knox early, giving him $13 million a year over four seasons. But Buffalo has an out after Year 2 before his cap numbers jump significantly.

Since neither Gesicki nor Knox are consistent stars but are effective pieces in the right scheme, they fit in the second tier of tight end contracts. Schultz likely sets the market this offseason with a deal similar to George Kittle’s $15 million mark, leaving Gesicki and Evan Engram to get what they can from these openings.

Other Dolphins Options at Tight End

Miami should have no interest in retaining Gesicki, considering their usage of his talent this offseason. It’s not money spent well, and Miami can net a compensatory pick for 2024 if he departs. Instead, the Dolphins can save a significant amount of money by drafting a rookie or adding a lower-tier veteran.

Durham Smythe, a fellow 2018 addition along with Gesicki, has already been extended through 2024. 2021 third-round pick Hunter Long is also under contract but hasn’t logged a reception this season due to a combination of injuries and being a healthy scratch. Miami needs help with the position.

MORE: Effort and Execution Holding Dolphins Back According to Mike McDaniel

Someone like Austin Hooper or Hayden Hurst will be affordable enough and contribute as a blocker. It’d be wise for Miami to invest in another young talent in the draft as well since Smythe will never be a receiving threat, and Long was overdrafted to begin with. There’s not a future plus-starter currently on the roster.

McDaniel will need to define what he wants from the position first. It makes zero sense to ever invest significant resources if this season has shown the plan for the future. But the best version of the Dolphins’ offense must have a speedy, difference-making tight end.

It’s too bad McDaniel refused to maximize Gesicki in 2022 while they’ve had him.

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