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NFL free agency 2023: Mike Gesicki can earn an extra $4.5 million from the Patriots this year. Here’s how.

Gesicki signed a one-year contract with New England earlier this month.

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

After trading away one member of their tight end group, the New England Patriots did not take long to bolster the position in free agency: four days after sending Jonnu Smith to Atlanta, they signed Mike Gesicki to a one-year contract.

Gesicki is not a one-for-one replacement for Smith — the former is primarily a receiver, the latter was used more as a blocker the last two years — but he will nonetheless play a prominent role in New England’s offense this year. How prominent? That remains to be seen, but it will have an impact on how much he will earn during the 2023 season.

While Gesicki’s deal has a base value of $4.5 million, he stands to earn double that if he can see consistent playing time and produce at a high level. A look at his contract incentives as first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss illustrates this:

Mike Gesicki: Contract incentives

2023: Up to $4.5 million
$350,000: 46% of offensive snaps
$400,000: 53% of offensive snaps
$400,000: 60% of offensive snaps
$450,000: 70% of offensive snaps
$500,000: 80% of offensive snaps

$300,000: 40 catches
$300,000: 50 catches
$300,000: 60 catches
$300,000: 70 catches

$300,000: 450 receiving yards
$300,000: 550 receiving yards
$300,000: 650 receiving yards
$300,000: 750 receiving yards

Gesicki has the opportunity to earn an extra $4.5 million in 2023 — a number tied to his playing time, catches and receiving yards.

The first of those categories consists of five levels totaling $2.1 million. All of them are considered not likely to be earned (NLTBE) given that Gesicki was on the field for 45 percent of the Miami Dolphins’ offensive snaps last year; if he can surpass that number in New England, he is set to cash in.

The same is true for his up to $1.2 million each reception and receiving yards incentives. He had 32 catches for 362 yards in 2023, his lowest output since his 2018 rookie campaign.

Gesicki returning to the levels he showed in between those two years would be good news for him and the team: from 2019 to 2021, he averaged 59 catches per season for 684 yards while playing 65.2 percent of snaps. If able to duplicate that production in New England, he would earn an extra $2.65 million atop his $4.5 million base.

Regardless of how much of his incentives Gesicki will earn, if any, it will not impact the Patriots’ 2023 salary cap. With all of it of the NLTBE variety, it would not hit the books until 2024.