Yesterday’s deadline to sign players on the franchise tag to an extension came and went without the Dolphins signing tight end Mike Gesicki to a new contract.
Our own Andy Davies did a dive into what’s next for Gesicki; you can read it by clicking here. Since that is covered, we will have to tackle whether or not the Dolphins made the right decision by not signing Gesicki to a long-term deal on Thursday.
There is no doubt Gesicki has turned into a quality offensive playmaker since the Dolphins selected him in the 2nd round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Penn State. He’s recorded 199 receptions, 2,225 yards, and 13 touchdowns in his career so far.
Those are solid numbers and certainly make a compelling case for him to get a long-term deal from the Dolphins.
However, this isn’t the right time to be paying Gesicki a long-term contract.
THE FOOTBALL REASONS
With Miami hiring Mike McDaniel from the 49ers, they will undergo a major scheme change from the past couple of seasons. McDaniel is a “run-first coach” and is bringing his run-first offense to Miami this season.
Typically, tight ends in that scheme must be at least functional blockers. George Kittle is the example everyone points to, but he’s a unicorn and not a realistic expectation of what a tight end in McDaniel’s offense has to look like.
Gesicki isn’t a functional blocker in the running game, and it would be a waste of his talent to spend a lot of time trying to get there this offseason.
The one thing Gesicki does have going for him is McDaniel’s pedigree as a coach that uses players to their strengths, regardless of their weaknesses. The prime example is Deebo Samuel, who enjoyed a breakout season under McDaniel in 2021.
Gesicki is a unique talent capable of creating mismatches at all three levels of the field. It’s not hard to imagine him generating a ton of explosive players down the seam as Miami’s other receivers draw coverage outside the numbers.
Speaking of Miami’s other receivers, they too are making it harder for Miami to invest in Gesicki long-term. Tyreek Hill, Cedrick Wilson, and Chase Edmonds all would’ve ranked inside Miami’s top-5 for receptions last season, and the team still has Jaylen Waddle, who had more than 100 catches last season.
It’s just simple math. The Dolphins will be throwing the ball less this season, and more talented players are on the roster to eat into Gesicki’s touches.
THE FINANCIAL REASONS
The Dolphins have the money to pay Gesicki a long-term contract. However, just because they have money to burn doesn’t mean they should burn it without seeing Gesicki play first.
Gesicki will cost the Dolphins 10.9 million dollars against the cap this season, which already puts him in the top-10 for NFL tight ends. That number isn’t too bad, especially compared to some of the other top tight-end contracts.
Jonnu Smith, of all people, got 31 million guaranteed from the Patriots last offseason, and they gave Hunter Henry 25 million guaranteed. Kittle and Mark Andrews got 30 million guaranteed. Travis Kelce has 21 million guaranteed.
The tight-end market is pretty expensive. Gesicki isn’t as good as Kelce, Andrews, or Kittle, but he’s in the same tier as players like Smith and Henry, who got massive contracts on the open market.
That’s probably in the neighborhood of what Gesicki is looking for, and the cap is only going to rise from now until the end of time, so Miami has to consider just how much they are willing to pony up for a player with a likely diminished role in their new offense.
Nobody denies that Gesicki is a good player and an impressive offensive playmaker. However, his role in Miami’s scheme is changing, and the momentum isn’t exactly in his favor.
The Dolphins added more talented playmakers this offseason while also bringing in a head coach that wants to run the football.
This isn’t a death sentence for Gesicki. There’s a version of history where he and McDaniel work together to find a productive role for him in the offense without compromising what either wants to do.
If that’s the case, then Miami should consider giving Gesicki a long-term deal. Until then, the tight-end market is a little too expensive to be making blind bets.