Our series of articles taking a look at the NFL’s upcoming free agency market continues today with a look at the soon-to-be available tight ends. After a look at the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, the tight ends come into focus, although the Miami Dolphins may not actually be in the market for the position.
The Dolphins are big on tight ends, but they could have seen the breakout from Mike Gesicki that they wanted to see. After a rookie season in which he only caught 32 passes for 202 yards, Gesicki improved to 51 receptions for 570 yards and five touchdowns. After a slow start to the season in which he only caught four passes once over the first six weeks of the year, topping 50 receiving yards once in that span and never scoring, Gesicki averaged four receptions per game over the final ten weeks, with three game over 50 yards and all five career touchdowns coming over that span. He may not have dominated entire games yet, but he has dominated portions of contests and looked like the receiving threat Miami envisioned when they selected him in the second round in 2018.
Behind Gesicki, the Dolphins have Durham Smythe, Michael Roberts, and Chris Myarick. Clive Walford is scheduled to be a free agent next month.
The Dolphins seem happy with Gesicki taking the lead, while Smythe and Roberts are primarily blocking tight ends. Myarick spent time with the Dolphins in the preseason in 2019 before spending the season on the practice squad, then signed a reserve/futures contract with the team at the end of the season.
The addition of another pass catching tight end could make sense for Miami, but they likely will not be in the market for a major tight end addition. If Miami was to make a play for a top tight end, they likely would be looking to the younger members of the group, ruling out players like Jason Witten (38), Vernon Davis (36, retiring), and even Jordan Reed (30) and Tyler Eifert (30).
One veteran name to mention, just because he previously work aqua and did have some big plays for Miami, is 31-year-old Charles Clay. Is it likely Miami would add him? No. But he could get a look as someone to back up Gesicki on a short-term deal.
Where tight end free agency is intriguing is with the younger players who are hitting the market. The Los Angeles Chargers have Hunter Henry heading to the market, while the Atlanta Falcons could lose Austin Hooper, both of whom are 25. Both of them could be great acquisitions, though they are likely to command top dollar. Henry caught 55 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns while Hooper had 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns last year.
If I were looking to add a tight end, I would probably go hard after either of those two options. Pairing one of them with Gesicki could create mismatches each week.
Other potential free agents include the Indianapolis Colt’s Eric Ebron and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Nick Vannett.
Potential Dolphins targets: A young depth signing makes sense as Miami looks to bolster the pass catchers behind Gesicki. Henry and Hooper could be splash signings if Miami is looking to make one of those this year. Vannett feels like a player who could slide into the discussion.