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NFL free agency 2023: How Mike Gesicki fits into the Patriots tight end group

New England added the veteran tight end on a one-year contract.

Cleveland Browns v Miami Dolphins Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The New England Patriots continued to bolster their offense on Friday, signing former Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year deal with a maximum value of $9 million. Gesicki was one of the top tight ends available on the open market, and will give the Patriots an experienced starter-level player at the position.

A second-round draft pick in 2018, Gesicki appeared in a combined 82 regular season and playoff games for the organization. Along the way, he proved himself a reliable pass catcher who finished his Dolphins career with a total of 233 receptions for 2,632 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Now in New England, the question is how Gesicki will fit onto the Patriots tight end depth chart.

Tight end depth chart

Hunter Henry: Henry showed some promise after joining the Patriots as a free agent in 2021, but he had a relatively quiet season last year. Still, the hope is that he will bounce back — and frankly, the team might need him to: he is the top all-around option currently on the roster and as such capable of contributing as a receiver and a blocker. That said, his blocking did leave a lot to be desired especially in the early parts of last season. If he can bounce back and rekindle the chemistry the chemistry he had with quarterback Mac Jones in 2021, Henry should continue to serve as New England’s TE1.

Mike Gesicki: Gesicki is listed as a tight end, but is not as versatile a player as Henry. In fact, it is not entirely inaccurate to describe him as more of a receiver than a tight end: the Patriots did not sign him for his blocking prowess but his abilities to use his 6-foot-6, 247-pound frame as a matchup weapon in the red area and on third downs. His size and straight-line explosiveness when slit out wide can be an asset, but his skillset certainly differs from the guy whose roster spot is taking over: Mike Gesicki is not a Jonnu Smith replacement, he is a big-bodied slot receiver.

Matt Sokol: Sokol joined the Patriots last offseason and spent the entire 2022 campaign on the practice squad. Having played just 34 snaps between offense and special teams as part of his three game-day elevations, it is clear that his contributions will come in a clearly-defined setup: he is a blocking tight end first and foremost, and therefore the polar opposite of what Gesicki will bring to the table.

Scotty Washington: Washington joined the New England practice squad in late September, and ended up seeing action in one game in 2022 — coincidentally against his former team, Cincinnati. He played 22 snaps that day and did not catch any passes, but he did have an assist when he deflected a ball back to Jakobi Meyers for a touchdown. So, what does this mean moving forward? Not much, but he does give the team another more traditional Y-tight end option in the mold of Hunter Henry.

A look a the Patriots’ current tight end depth chart shows that it really is a tale of two groups. On the one side, you have Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki as virtual locks to make the team as the starter-level options at the position. On the other side, you have the rather unproven Matt Sokol and Scotty Washington.

Unless the Patriots trust one of them to make the leap onto a roster-worthy player — and there is little indication that is the case — it seems entirely possible that the Patriots will add more talent to the group via the draft. As was already mentioned before, this year’s tight end class is a talented one that runs rather deep: New England could decide to invest a mid-round pick in a potential developmental option and still get good value and high upside.

At this point in time, a move like that would make sense. That is especially true considering that the long-term stability of the position is in question: Henry, Gesicki, Sokol and Washington all have only one year left on their contracts and might be off the team next year at this time.

New England has set itself up relatively well to add young talent to develop behind Henry and Gesicki. Betting on New England to draft a tight end therefore appears to be a relatively safe move.


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