The New England Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year contract worth up to $9 million, according to multiple reports. Bill Belichick continues to invest premium resources into the tight end position. Gesicki carries the potential to form a fearsome duo with Hunter Henry.
Belichick famously signed both Henry and Jonnu Smith to lucrative contracts during the 2021 offseason. The signings arrived after the failed draft selections of Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi in 2020. Smith and the Patriots proved to be a poor fit together, and Smith was traded to the Atlanta Falcons last week. Belichick is taking another swing for the fences by signing Gesicki.
This qualifies as a one-year prove-it deal for Gesicki, who’s been trying (and failing) to sign a multi-year contract for quite some time. The Dolphins placed the franchise tag on Gesicki last season and refuted discussions of a long-term extension. Gesicki ultimately proved to be a square peg in a round hole for Miami’s new coaching staff. Mike McDaniel’s offense prioritizes tight ends that can block and assist the running game, and Gesicki doesn’t possess that type of skill set.
Gesicki should be utilized as a big-slot receiver in New England. Gesicki is a specific talent that lacks scheme versatility. As long as the Patriots are familiar with, and accept his shortcomings, their marriage carries the potential to be successful. But that context is crucial. It’s also worth noting the Patriots recently signed Juju Smith-Schuster, who works out of the slot position as well.
Despite being miscast, franchise tagged, and not used to his strengths by the Dolphins (which McDaniel owned up to), Mike Gesicki showed he can still threaten the middle as a big slot with a huge catch radius
Great pairing with Hunter Henry on HOSS or verticals off play action pic.twitter.com/micixBBhTg
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 17, 2023
Gesicki can still be a productive mismatch threat at the NFL level. Gesicki doesn’t fit traditional tight end models and he should continue serving as a predominant slot receiver in New England. Offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will be aware of Gesicki’s limitations and should use him appropriately. I feel a lot better about this partnership now that New England employs a legitimate offensive play-caller.
Gesicki played 228 snaps in the slot last season, per Pro Football Focus. Gesicki flexed out wide as a receiver on 106 occasions and saw just 167 in-line snaps for McDaniel in 2022. Gesicki should see even fewer in-line snaps in New England. Henry dominated in-line snap counts for the Patriots in 2022 with 481 snaps.
Belichick noted Henry’s improvements as an in-line blocker last season.
“His blocking has really improved this year,” Belichick said following a late-October defeat to the Chicago Bears. “He’s done a really good job for us in the blocking area and against these teams that are playing the over fronts, so the defensive end at the end of the line. Some tough blocking assignments there. He probably has the toughest matchup on the field on a lot of the running plays.”
Belichick’s track record at the tight end position has been horrendous over the last few offseasons. Gesicki arrives in Foxboro with similar buyer-beware warning labels. Theoretically, Gesicki and Henry are capable of co-existing due to differentiating skill sets and usage. Their pairing carries the potential to be a successful one so long as Belichick doesn’t botch their assignments.
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