Mike Gesicki is likely wondering what types of offers he'd receive on the open market in 2022 NFL free agency, but the Miami Dolphins aren't too keen on letting him find out. Having selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, they've watched him become a very capable weapon at the professional level, and they'd like to keep those good times rolling in South Florida.
And with this year's franchise tag on tight ends being seen as mostly a bargain, the team has now pulled the trigger on applying the tag to Gesicki only hours ahead of the league deadline on Tuesday, March 8. The Dolphins announced the move.
Talks will likely continue between Gesicki and the Dolphins as they'll have until mid-July to hash out a long-term deal. If they cannot, Gesicki will play under the tag and earn $10.931 million, fully guaranteed, before re-entering free agency in 2023.
This likely won't please Gesicki in the least, however, considering how he's actually utilized by the Dolphins.
Though listed as a tight end, hence the payout for a TE franchise tag, he lined up in the slot for 85% of his reps in 2021 and views himself as a big slot receiver -- versus actually being a tight end. The difference here isn't negligible as it relates to the franchise tag, because while the tag for a TE is just under $11 million, a franchise tag salary for a wide receiver in 2022 is much more robust $18.419 million. Gesicki could potentially file a grievance in an attempt to gain the extra $7.5 million he might feel he's owed, assuming a long-term deal isn't done.
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The 26-year-old is coming off of a career-best season as a pro in receiving yards (780), second only to rookie standout Jaylen Waddle, and he's averaged more than 10 yards per catch over each of the last three seasons, while rarely seeing drops as an issue -- his career catch percentage in the NFL hovering near 63%. With the Dolphins purportedly all-in on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in 2022, the next step will be retaining/getting key offensive talent around him, and Gesicki is viewed as such a talent.
They'll have to get the financial portion sorted out, though.