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NFL Franchise tag deadline: Mike Gesicki, Dolphins not ‘really engaged in contract negotiations’

Miami Dolphins Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are a week from the start of their 2022 training camp, at least for the rookies. Miami will welcome the rookies into South Florida on July 19, while the veterans will head to town a week later, getting into the team facilities on July 26. The time between now and then will (hopefully) be a fairly quiet period when it comes to the players, unless Miami’s front office starts to make some moves.

One move the team could make has to be completed this week, if they are going to do it. Under NFL rules, a team and a player who had the franchise tag placed upon him have until 4 p.m. ET on July 15 to complete any negotiations changing the one-year contract from the tag into a long-term contract. For the Dolphins, that means they have until Friday afternoon to come to terms on a longterm deal with tight end Mike Gesicki.

Gesicki has signed his tag, meaning there is little chance of a holdout from Gesicki to start camp, given he would be under contract and Miami would not be able to do any negotiating with him. He is believed to want a longer deal, keeping him in Miami, but it does not appear the two sides have really initiated in-depth discussions. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo late last week, the Dolphins and Gesicki have not “really engaged in contract negotiations” and there is a belief the tight end could spend the full 2022 season on the one-year contract.

A 2018 second-round draft pick by the Dolphins, Gesicki continues to be a player right on the fringe of being considered among the elite tight ends in the league. He does not necessarily play as a traditional tight end, working often as a big slot receiver or out wide, but he was tagged at the $10.9 million tight end rate for this season. Any new contract likely would include that amount guaranteed for this season, possibly turning the deal tag into part of the signing bonus on a new contract.

In four seasons, Gesicki has 199 career receptions for 2,255 yards with 13 touchdowns. In comparison, Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has caught 148 passes for 1,754 yards with 15 touchdowns in five seasons since being a first-round pick in 2017 and including the 2019 season when he only played in four games due to a concussion and a broken wrist. Njoku was also tagged this offseason and has since signed a four-year, $56.75 million deal, with two void years in 2026 and 2027 for salary cap purposes. He received an $11.47 million signing bonus with another $8 million bonus and a guarantee of $3 million of his 2024 salary that kicks in on the third league day of 2023. He received $17 million fully guaranteed (including the signing bonus) upon signing. He has salary cap numbers of $3.3 million in 2022, $8.4 million in 2023, $18.4 million in 2024, and $19.1 million in 2025. He will account for $5.5 million in dead money in 2026 when the voids become official.

Njoku’s contract, including the $13.7 million per year average marking the fifth-highest average for a tight end in the league, could be seen as a starting point for building a deal for Gesicki. Ahead of Njoku are the Baltimore Ravens’ Mark Andrews at $14 million per year, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Dallas Goedert at $14.25 million per season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce at $14.3 million per year, and the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle at $15 million per season. The $10.9 million for Gesicki this year ranks eighth in the average per year rankings for the position.

Deadlines spur deals. Even with the report that the Dolphins and Gesicki may not have had in-depth contract discussions as of last week does not mean the two sides cannot come to a deal. They have until Friday to get it done.