Five thoughts on Mike Gesicki’s move from the Dolphins to the Patriots

Friday was one of those days you saw coming a mile away, but it still hit you when it arrived.

Mike Gesicki is off to the New England Patriots, agreeing to a free-agent deal reportedly worth up to $9 million.

He has left the Dolphins’ building to the disappointment of receiver Tyreek Hill, whose locker was next to Gesicki’s but apparently was unaware of the latest development until he checked social media Friday morning.

“Sorry you had to find out like this,” Gesicki tweeted to his now-former teammate. “But i’ll still see you twice this year lol.”

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Mike Gesicki performs his griddy one last time as a Dolphin after catching a touchdown pass against the Bills in the wild-card round.

1. It’ll be interesting to see how the Patriots use Gesicki.

The reason Gesicki isn’t still a Dolphin, of course, is he was not deemed a fit in coach Mike McDaniel’s system, which relies more on tight ends blocking. As we all know, Gesicki is and always will be a receiving tight end.

Or is he?

No, I’m not suggesting Gesicki will suddenly bulldoze linebackers. What I do wonder is whether Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will bag the idea of Gesicki as a tight end. Turning him into a receiver would end the whining about what Gesicki doesn’t do well and maximize what he does do well. That’s what coaches do.

It was late in the season that McDaniel admitted he was failing to get the most out of Gesicki, who was coming off a 780-yard season but saw his targets, receptions and yardage cut in half.

Meanwhile, Cedrick Wilson, handed an $8 million contract and seemingly in prime position to seize the No. 3 receiver role behind Hill and Jaylen Waddle, finished with 12 receptions for 136 yards.

If “wide receiver” Mike Gesicki’s numbers balloon back in the 800-yard range and he gets back to making impossible catches, folks down here are going to be wondering 1) About Wilson money and 2) Why Gesicki wasn’t just listed as a receiver here, letting everybody get on with it.

Final point: Check out what Belichick said about Gesicki a few years ago: “He’s a big receiver. I mean, he’s not really a conventional tight end.”

2. What’s up with all the gems the Dolphins find in Round 2?

Gesicki was drafted in the second round out of Penn State in 2018.

Just for fun, I skimmed the Dolphins’ drafts in the 2000s, looking at every second-round pick, and these were some of the names I saw:

S Jevon Holland (2021)

G Rob Hunt (2020)

TE Mike Gesicki (2018)

CB Xavien Howard (2016)

WR Jarvis Landry (2014)

QB Chad Henne (2008)

WR Chris Chambers (2001)

Pretty respectable neighborhood, wouldn’t you say?

Just for laughs, I skimmed the rest of their No. 2s back through history. And …

CB Sam Madison (1997)

G Keith Sims (1990)

LB John Offerdahl (1986)

WR Mark Duper (1982)

FB Andra Franklin (1981)

NT Bob Baumhower (1977)

WR Freddie Solomon (1975)

RB Benny Malone (1974)

TE Jim Mandich (1970)

DT Bob Heinz (1969)

This is the point where I could contrast that to players the Dolphins drafted (and whiffed on) in Round 1, but you know who they are.

Just kinda interesting how often the Dolphins discover gold in Round 2 and cubic zirconia in Round 1.

3. I confess. I was dead wrong.

There was a time I wondered if Gesicki would amount to much.

Gesicki finished his rookie season with 22 receptions for 202 yards and zero touchdowns. But it wasn’t his stats that concerned me. I just didn’t sense an urgency to get better. He had been drafted up high, he had his rookie contract and he seemed too content.

That’s not just me talking. Back in May 2021, during a patented Gesicki rant in defense of Tua Tagovailoa, here’s what Mike said about going from Year 1 to Year 2 in the NFL:

“You kind of understand the game more. You see things happen. I think it’s just kind of making that one play. I think that’s the difference between me and him, because he’s already made the play. My rookie year, I don’t think I did a damn thing to make a play.”

The key words there: “my rookie year.” Because after that season, Gesicki did plenty to make plays. To improve. Criticize his blocking if you want, but in the three seasons following Gesicki’s rookie year, his numbers did not steadily climb by accident. Day after day, practice would be over but Gesicki would remain out in the sun, catching balls off the Jugs machine.

4. The rants. We’ll definitely miss the rants and the laughs.

The aforementioned rant was classic Gesicki. A verbal griddy, you might say. It came in the dreaded Zoom season, so picture the scene: With practice completed, media members remained in their viewing area under a canopy at Nova Southeastern. A vicious storm struck, bringing rain, thunder and lightning and proving how ineffective the canopy was

But nobody cared because Gesicki was on a roll regarding Tagovailoa. Gesicki had had enough of Tagovailoa criticism and picked that moment to fight back. What ticked off Gesicki was “people saying stupid, uneducated stuff about him.”

It took Gesicki nine minutes to get all of it off his chest, by which time a member of the Dolphins’ PR staff suggested that reporters immediately leave before someone gets struck by lightning, and not the verbal kind Gesicki had just dished out.

Then there was the time Gesicki showed up to talk with reporters wearing close pal Durham Smythe’s No. 81 jersey as a message to GM Chris Grier.

“Today, I figured I’d come in here and give him all of the praise and start his campaign to be a Miami Dolphin next year and moving forward,” Gesicki said. “So Chris, if you’re listening, this is my campaign for Durham.”

Clearly, it worked. Soon after on Twitter:

“Per a source closer to the situation than anyone else (ME), The Miami Dolphins have Re-Signed and made the best signing of anyone across the league this free agency period and signed TE/QB Sneak Guru Durham Smythe to a 2 Year contract,” Gesicki wrote. “This is all of South Florida now.”

Along the way, Gesicki couldn’t resist a zinger at Smythe: “I know he wouldn’t do it for me, but I’ll do it for him.”

Of course, nothing will ever top his gift to South Florida: his griddy. His incredibly awful griddy.

“She was not proud,” Gesicki said of wife Halle’s reaction the first time he performed it. “She told me not to embarrass her like that ever again, so she’s had me practicing several times a day since then.”

Naturally, it became a Gesicki trademark.

Mike Gesicki catching the winning touchdown pass in front of Patriots safety Patrick Chung in 2019.

Mike Gesicki catching the winning touchdown pass in front of Patriots safety Patrick Chung in 2019.

5. A totally different ballgame in New England.

Gesicki will see some familiar folks in New England, including O’Brien, who recruited him to Penn State even though he didn’t wind up coaching him there.

Also, the Patriots have receiver DeVante Parker and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, ex-teammates on the Dolphins.

They have Hunter Henry at tight end and are adding receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

But there will be an adjustment on who’s throwing him the ball: Mac Jones. Let’s compare Jones’ 2022 stats to Tagovailoa’s.

Jones completed 65.2 percent of his passes, which actually was a tad better than Tagovailoa’s 64.8.

But what they did with those passes is a different story.

Yards per attempt: Jones 6.8, Tagovailoa 8.9

Yards per completion: Jones 10.4, Tagovailoa 13.7

Touchdowns-interceptions: Jones 14-11, Tagovailoa 25-8

Passer rating: Jones 84.8, Tagovailoa 105.5

Dolphins reporter Hal Habib can be reached at  [email protected] and followed on Twitter  @gunnerhal.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Mike Gesicki to Patriots: Five thoughts on TE leaving the Dolphins