Seeing a report suggesting the Miami Dolphins have brought up tight end Mike Gesicki’s name in trade conversations was noteworthy but it also shouldn’t have been particularly surprising given the circumstances.
From the time Mike McDaniel was hired as head coach, the question of how well Gesicki would fit in the new offensive scheme has been obvious and he spoke clearly about the issue after the preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday when he talked about “learning a new position.”
The other issue with Gesicki is that he’s playing on the franchise tag for $10.9 million in 2022 and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next spring, so his future with the team very much is in doubt. Because of that, the Dolphins might be wise to listen to trade offers for Gesicki, with the understanding that dealing him means they would lose a very good receiving tight end who can help in the passing game.
Without question, Gesicki is a talented player who could be an upgrade for some teams, but there might not be a robust market for his services.
Gesicki’s situation is challenging for two key reasons. First, he’s a one-dimensional tight end who isn’t going to offer much as a blocker. Second, he’s playing on the franchise tag this season, meaning any acquiring team would have to pay him almost $11 million in 2022 and potentially lose him to free agency in 2023.
Those conditions alone likely will narrow his trade market considerably. It’s also probably fair to remove division rivals from consideration too, though the Dolphins did trade DeVante Parker to the New England Patriots in the offseason.
Looking for a Scheme Fit
For starters, every team running the “Shanahan-style” offense like Miami will under head coach Mike McDaniel or an offense that features a lot of run game and play-action concepts probably won’t be interested in Gesicki thanks to his blocking deficiencies.
That likely rules out the 49ers, Rams, Browns, Packers, Broncos, Ravens, Eagles, Titans, Colts and Falcons. Some of those teams already have established tight ends in the first place, but scheme limitations alone rule out a number of options.
Sticking with potential scheme fits, a team like the Arizona Cardinals makes a lot of sense. They run a lot of spread concepts that involve four wide receivers. However, they are already investing $17.5 million guaranteed in tight end Zach Ertz, and they selected Colorado State tight end Trey McBride in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Cap Space is an Issue
Gesicki certainly would be an upgrade for a team like the New York Giants. It looks like they are going to start rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Bellinger at tight end with former Dolphins tight end Chris Myarick as the backup.
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However, the Giants only have $5.3 million dollars in cap space, according to Over the Cap, so they couldn’t absorb Gesicki’s franchise tag hit without trading another contract back to Miami.
Gesicki would be an upgrade for a team like the Texans too. Their starter is Brevin Jordan, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Houston has just more than $10 million, according to Over the Cap, so they too would have to send a pick and a player back to Miami.
It also should be noted that the Texans already tried to acquire a Dolphins tight end this summer by trading for Adam Shaheen, though the deal fell through when he failed his physical with them.
Because those teams with limited cap space would have to send a player back to Miami, they would likely offer lower draft pick compensation, making them less appealing partners for the Dolphins.
The Remaining Contenders
After filtering out those teams, there are some that make a little bit of sense but would have their own issues to address.
The L.A. Chargers have the cap space, and Gesicki profiles as a receiving upgrade over Gerald Everett, but they also have Donald Parham. Parham operates as the team’s “big receiver” already, and they are paying him just $895,000 this season for the same skill set Gesicki would give them.
The Cowboys are another team that’s been floated as a potential landing spot. They have the cap space and an aggressive front office, but they are already paying Dalton Schultz on the tight end franchise tag this season.
A contending team like the New Orleans Saints has the cap space to acquire Gesicki for this season, and he would be an upgrade over Adam Trautman. However, it’s important to consider the Saints already are over the cap for 2023 and probably couldn’t sign Gesicki to a long-term contract.
The last team worth mentioning is the Panthers. They have the cap space, available reps, and the need for a pass-catching tight end. Matt Rhule is on the clock to start winning games, so upgrading with Gesicki makes sense.
But they are a little short on draft capital thanks to trades at the quarterback position. They’re missing their 2023 third-round and sixth-round picks. They might not be inclined to deplete their resources even more for Gesicki.
The Dolphins also could look for a veteran player instead of a draft pick (or picks) for Gesicki, and have clear needs along the offensive line and at cornerback.
Any team could look at Gesicki and see a talented enough receiver that they throw caution to the wind. However, given the number of hurdles they’d have to jump over this close to the start of the season, it doesn’t seem likely the Dolphins will have a lot of suitors.