After acquiring Tyreek Hill in the offseason, the Miami Dolphins would seem to be all-in on trying to win in 2022. However, looming salary-cap concerns could force the team to part ways with at least one key playmaker on offense.
Per Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed, the Dolphins have "brought up" tight end Mike Gesicki's name in trade talks with other teams leading into the start of the regular season.
Gesicki has been one of the most productive receiving tight ends in the NFL over the past two seasons. The Penn State alum ranked fourth among all players at the position with 703 yards in 2020.
The 2021 season saw Gesicki set career-highs in targets (112), receptions (73) and receiving yards (780).
Despite that production, Miami seemed to indicate it doesn't necessarily consider Gesicki a part of its long-term future by not giving him a long-term deal after using the franchise tag to retain him.
Gesicki signed the franchise tender in March, guaranteeing him $10.9 million this season. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo (h/t NFL.com's Grant Gordon) reported last month the Dolphins and Gesicki never "really engaged in contract negotiations" ahead of the July 15 deadline to sign a long-term extension.
Before the franchise tag situation came up, PFF's Ian Hartitz noted Gesicki's argument to be classified as a wide receiver was backed up by stats based on how the Dolphins' previous coaching staff used him:
Ian Hartitz @Ihartitz
92% of Gesicki's routes came in the slot or out wide. NFL argument with Graham (78% routes in 2013) was that the slot reps were close enough to the line of scrimmage for him to still accomplish 3 TE tasks + defenses guarded him with linebackers and safeties. Gesicki is different.
Head coach Mike McDaniel is entering his first season as Dolphins head coach. He came from a situation with the San Francisco 49ers where George Kittle has earned rave reviews for his blocking just as much as his receiving ability.
McDaniel and offensive coordinator Frank Smith have extensive experience coaching up the running game. McDaniel was the run game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers from 2017-20. Smith was the run game coordinator and offensive line coach for the Los Angeles Chargers last season.
The scheme they are bringing to Miami will likely require a high-level blocking tight end to be successful. Backup tight end Durham Smythe isn't known for his blocking ability, but he's been efficient as a receiver the past two seasons with a catch percentage of 85.7 on 70 targets.
If the Dolphins determine the difference in receiving value between Smythe, who has a $2.75 million cap hit in 2022, and Gesicki is negligible, putting the latter on the trade block in an attempt to recoup potential draft assets or a player at a position of need isn't a bad idea.