Gesicki’s four-year deal is worth approximately $6.6 million.
Gesicki, from Penn State, was acquired to give Ryan Tannehill the downfield threat at tight end the Dolphins have lacked. He caught 129 passes for 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons as the Nittany Lions’ starting tight end and is a physical presence for secondaries at 6-feet-6 and 250 pounds.
“He’s aggressive to the ball and he can make plays,” coach Adam Gase said. “He’s a big man that can run and has really good hands. It’s been fun to watch him kind of develop and trying to learn this offense. He puts a lot of time into it. He’s trying to be one of those guys that can play fast.”
Gesicki said he and fellow rookie Durham Smythe, who were hotel roommates during the offseason program, spent many nights quizzing each other about the playbook. He said his primary concern was having coaches and teammates think of him as a player who “knows his role, his assignment and I want him on the field. I want him to make a play for us.”
Two sentences about the Dolphins, buried deep in an NFL notes column in The Boston Globe, have caused all kinds of ripples around the league and South Florida, but nowhere should those ripples be actual waves more than in Davie.
“A well-placed league source tells us that the Dolphins had the pick of Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick all ready to go at No. 11 when owner Stephen Ross stepped in and implored his team to trade back, both to acquire more picks and to save money on the first-rounder,” The Globe reported over the weekend. “Ross’ football people talked him out of it, and the Dolphins went ahead with the Fitzpatrick pick.”
The report came courtesy of Ben Volin. It carries weight because Volin is a respected pro football writer and formerly covered the Dolphins for The Post, so to him, this isn’t a faceless organization among the 31 rivals of the New England Patriots. Ben knows people here.
Did Ross merely question the selection of Fitzpatrick or argue against it — “implore” his people not to do it? There’s huge difference. The only way to know for certain would be to be in the room, to know the context of the discussions, the volume of the discussions and the amount of push-back by the participants.
The rest of us, however, need to file away this knowledge in a handy section of our noggins, ready to pull that file out on a moment’s notice for further review. Because there are three members of the organization directly affected. And no, coach Adam Gase isn’t one of them. Not now.
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Put yourself in his shoes. You’re a 21-year-old rookie, haven’t even had your first NFL practice, and a report comes out indicating that the owner of your new team didn’t want you.
Talk about your “Unwelcome to the NFL” moment.
The good news is, once Fitzpatrick gets over that initial “What?” reflex, there’s every indication this brouhaha will have little or no effect on him. This is a guy who saw a hurricane turn his family’s home into a swamp and he reacted by rolling up his sleeves. A guy who treats the end of practice as a signal his workday is half done, if that. A guy who played under Nick Saban and not only lived to tell about it, but actually made Saban smile with his work ethic.
You think someone questioning his ability — even if it is the club owner — is going to derail his career?
General Manager Chris Grier and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum: The Dolphins maintain that Grier runs the draft, but Tannenbaum is Grier’s boss, so who’s ultimately making the call is in the eye of the beholder.
Tannenbaum is in his 24th year in the NFL and fourth as the head of the team’s football ops. Grier has been in the league 22 years, including 19 with the Dolphins, and is entering his third year as GM.
While we don’t know how steadfast Ross may have been against Fitzpatrick, it’s clear that Grier or Tannenbaum or more likely both signed off on the choice.
And that’s the crux of this.
Ross remains convinced he scored a coup when he hired Gase. In Ross’ eyes, Gase paid dividends with a playoff berth in 2016, was dealt a lousy hand in 2017 and probably in 2018. (At least that’s according to oddsmakers, who are fooled by teams every year but get it right far more often than they get it wrong.)
Word around the league is Fitzpatrick is one of the safest first-rounders and was the right move for the Dolphins in that situation. If Ross was hoping for a sexier pick, a spark plug for the offense who could help fill seats — and, let’s be honest, a quarterback for the future — it’s understandable.
The part about saving money? Much tougher to buy. Yes, the Dolphins parted with several big names this offseason, but I look at that more as cap management than reluctance on Ross’ part to sign a check. He has maintained, for good reason, that he would never let pure dollars stand in the way of improving the roster. That’s consistent with the choice of Fitzpatrick.
Example: According to the handy-dandy chart NFL people use to put a value on picks, the No. 11 overall slot used for Fitzpatrick is worth 1,250 points. If the Dolphins had traded down to save a buck, a potential partner might have been Green Bay, which could have sent Miami the Nos. 18 and 45 choices (worth 1,350 points). Whether it would have saved money is debatable.
Fitzpatrick is slotted to receive a $16.6 million package, including an $11 million signing bonus. The two picks from the Packers would have cost $18.4 million over the full four years and $9.6 million up front.
Years from now, this will be wildly amusing if Fitzpatrick turns out to be the next Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed. It’ll be a tale the guys tweeting on Freezing Cold Takes will be glad they stashed in their own filing system.
But if not — if a Dolphins owner already casting a skeptical eye isn’t among the happily converted — you won’t want to be one of the guys who twisted his arm in that draft room.
Since last season ended, the Miami Dolphins have acquired at least 14 players through free agency, 3 players via trade and 8 players in the draft.
The Dolphins finished 6-10 last season and dumped Pro Bowlers Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and Mike Pouncey.
So the Dolphins need many of these players to come through, and quickly.
Taking into consideration price, value and skill, here is my ranking of Miami’s offseason acquisitions. Keep in mind, this is not a ranking of these players from best-to-worst, but a ranking of the value and quality of the acquisition.
(TRADE) DE Robert Quinn from L.A. Rams for fourth round pick. He’s 27 years old with reasonable two years left on contract.
(SIGNED) G Josh Sitton. Miami adds PFF’s #5 ranked guard, addressing a long-standing need.
(DRAFTED) S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Not a glaring need, but one of the NFL’s best first-round draft values.
(SIGNED) RB Frank Gore. Ranked even with Kenyan Drake in ’17 by PFF, a well-priced mentor for the youngster.
(TRADE) DT Akeem Spence. For a seventh rounder, a reasonably-priced veteran ranked higher than Miami’s returning DT’s by PFF.
(TRADE) C Daniel Kilgore. This is tough because it resulted in Mike Pouncey’s cut. But acquired for mere seventh round slide.
(DRAFTED) TE Mike Gesicki. This feels like a home run or a strike out. But Miami needed an athletic dynamo at the position.
(SIGNED) DL William Hayes. If healthy, an important under-the-radar signing.
(SIGNED) WR Danny Amendola. They’re paying him for one year about what NE paid for three; but he should help.
(SIGNED) WR Albert Wilson. This is a projection/upside signing, but we trust Adam Gase’s WR evaluation.
(DRAFTED) RB Kalen Ballage. The Daily Dolphin heavily endorses this choice, made with Jay Ajayi pick.
(SIGNED) OT Sam Young. Proved highly capable in reserve role last season.
(SIGNED) DB Walt Aikens. With Michael Thomas moving on, securing special teams ace Aikens was important.
(DRAFTED) LB Jerome Baker. In a specialized coverage role, has athleticism to contribute.
(DRAFTED) TE Durham Smythe. If he emulates Anthony Fasano’s strengths, good pick.
(SIGNED) LB Terence Garvin. Can be a valuable cog on special teams.
(SIGNED) LS John Denney. More John Denney is like more Cowbell. It rocks.
(SIGNED) QB David Fales. Adam Gase wanted him back. And he may be Miami’s backup.
(SIGNED) OT Roubbens Joseph. Worthwhile flier on a behemoth.
(SIGNED) TE Gavin Escobar. Worthwhile flier on a former second rounder.
(DRAFTED) LB Quentin Poling. Potential special teamer and reserve.
(DRAFTED) DB Cornell Armstrong. Says he tries to play like Brent Grimes.
(SIGNED) QB Bryce Petty. Worth a look in training camp.
(DRAFTED) K Jason Sanders. If Darren Rizzi says he can kick, I think he can kick.
The Dolphins worked to fill a need at defensive tackle Thursday by trading with Detroit for Akeem Spence, who earned a raise via incentives that the Lions decided to take back.
The Dolphins will send a 2019 late-round pick to Detroit.
Spence, 26, was a fourth-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2013 who started 11 games for the Lions last season, finishing with 19 solo tackles and 20 assists. He appeared in all 16 games in 2017.
He’s from Fort Walton Beach High School.
Spence signed a three-year deal last year and earned bonuses based on playing time that would have pumped his $2.4 million salary to $3.15 million, but the Lions evidently didn’t want to pay that under the salary cap.
Spence was an instant starter as a rookie with the Bucs, finishing with 29 total tackles and one sack. He matched his career high of three sacks in 2014. He joined the Lions for 2017 on a three-year, $9 million contract.
Spence was one of eight Lions who took a knee during the national anthem before a game against Atlanta last year. Although he later stood during later renditions of the anthem as the season went on, he sent a tweet saying he was chagrined to learn kneeling cost his father a contracting job.
OK, maybe not you, specifically, but “you,” as in many of you out there.
He’s the former University of Miami hero who in a perfect world would have been drafted by his hometown Dolphins, which he thought would happen way back in 2005. Didn’t happen. But that was a lot of years and a lot of yards — actually, a lot of miles — ago.
He’s finally wearing Dolphins colors and about to turn 35, which isn’t ancient by running back standards.
It’s unheard of.
But if you think this is some kind of yearlong farewell tour for Frank Gore, forget it.
“Some guys go to different teams and feel like when they get older, they just want to just ride the coattails of other guys,” said Gore, who ran for 961 for Indianapolis last year. “I don’t want to do that. I respect every man on this team. But I’m here to still play and help the young guys, but I want to show the fans in Miami that I can still be a top guy in this league.”
Gore doesn’t walk around boasting about it, but it’s a sense of pride that the only backs to have ever rushed for more yards than his 14,026 are named Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.
“I don’t think about it, but when people ask me, it’s a blessing,” Gore said. “Thinking about where I came from, coming out of college with two ACLs and all the doubters saying I won’t be able to play two or three years, getting picked in the third round was a reach — I’m still going.”
Gore played at Coral Gables High before becoming a Hurricane. The San Francisco 49ers stole him in the third round in ’05, the 65th pick overall. The Dolphins had the second pick that year and chose a running back, but it was Auburn’s Ronnie Brown, who had a good career, including a 1,008-yard season in 2006, but his 5,391 yards don’t compare to Gore’s.
“When I had to do the workout for the team, I thought they were going to take me in like the second or third round,” Gore said of the Dolphins. “But when they took Ronnie, I was like, ‘That’s out the door.’ Because they worked the hell out of me. I said, ‘I might have a chance to get drafted here,’ but it didn’t happen, but it’s all good. I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career so far.”
Now it comes full circle. Not only is he back home, but he finally gets to watch his son, Frank Jr., playing for Miami-Killian High. Junior, if you really had to ask, is a running back.
“My kids get to see me every day,” Gore said. “I get to see my oldest son’s high school games. It’s probably my first time to really get to see him play since I’ve been in the NFL, so that’s a plus. Just to be back playing in front of my fans, it’s very big and I’m happy for it.”
Gore recently was talking with an older cousin who pointed out he’ll soon be No. 4 on the all-time rushing list.
“I told him I don’t think about it because, I guess, I’m still playing,” Gore said. “I think when I’m done, then I’ll look back and then it probably will hit me. I’ve been blessed and I’m happy.
“I’m going to show this organization that they picked the right guy by bringing me in this year.”
Mike Pouncey said he was heartbroken when he and the Dolphins were parting.
Now it seems he’s bitter.
Pouncey, a Pro Bowl center, was released by the Dolphins last month after declining to take a pay cut. He quickly joined the Los Angeles Chargers.
Speaking to reporters in Southern California on Monday, Pouncey said he was unhappy that the Dolphins texted his agent, Joel Segal, to let him know he was being released instead of calling Pouncey directly.
“They have added fuel to the fire,” Pouncey said.
The comments were tweeted by Fernando Ramirez, a reporter for the NBC affiliate in San Deigo, and Dan Woike, who covers the Chargers for the Los Angeles Times.
Segal did not immediately return a message from The Post.
The Dolphins declined to comment.
But Pouncey’s comment likely surprised some in Davie. For one, his release came only after the Dolphins asked him to take a pay cut. After declining, Pouncey asked to be released, so the move couldn’t have come as a surprise.
Secondly, Pouncey at the time put an upbeat face on his departure, saying he gave Miami everything he had and was “heartbroken” to be moving on.
“At the end of the day I’m a Miami Dolphin for life,” Pouncey told The Post. “This city gave me an opportunity to play in the NFL. I think it was awesome. I had a hell of a ride here.”
The Dolphins announced the signing of tight end Gavin Escobar on Monday.
Escobar, 27, who’s 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, played in 64 games with seven starts during his NFL career. He was Dallas’ second-round pick in 2013.
His most productive season was his first. He caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns for the Cowboys in 2013. He has a total of 12 receptions over the past three seasons, including zero last year.
Escobar has 30 career receptions for 333 yards (an average of 11.1) and eight touchdowns.
Escobar, from San Diego State, played in 62 games for the Dallas Cowboys (2013-16) and two games for the Baltimore Ravens last season.
So, when McCain met with the media Friday during the annual Dolphins Cancer Challenge golf tournament at Turnberry Isle, naturally a question came up — delivered with a smirk — on whether he had met Amendola with perhaps cooler heads prevailing.
“I have, I have,” said McCain, who was ejected for throwing a punch even though replays showed it was more of a forearm. “Me and Danny, we chalked it up.”
“We chalked it up.”
(More of a smirk.)
“Yeah, we chalked it up.”
That’s McCain’s way of saying they’re giving peace a chance.
“We’re teammates, man,” McCain said. “We’ve got one goal in mind, that’s a championship. We’re happy to have him on Sundays — Sunday, Monday, Thursday, whatever day it is, we’re happy to have him on our sideline. We’re going to compete.”
That they are. Remember, McCain is a cornerback who should play an important role this season, and Amendola is being brought in along with Albert Wilson to fill a void at receiver left by Jarvis Landry.
So McCain and Amendola will see plenty of each other in Davie, on the practice field.
“They made practice really, really fun now, so it should be a good time and really competitive,” McCain said.
The Dolphins’ decision to part with Jarvis Landry is resulting in a savings of $1.1 million per year for the next several seasons.
Landry and the Cleveland Browns are completing a five-year, $75.5 million extension, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Thursday morning.
Landry will receive $47 million in guaranteed money, which is far more than what the Dolphins are guaranteeing for his replacements, Danny Amendola ($5.95 million guaranteed) and Albert Wilson ($14.45 million).
But viewed on a per-year basis for the next few years, the money is much closer.
Landry’s contract averages out to $15.1 million per year, should he remain with the Browns for the duration of his contract.
Amendola’s contract averages out to $6 million per year (two years, $12 million), and Wilson’s is $8 million (three years, $24 million), for a combined $14 million per.
Keep in mind, however, that much revolves around how much the Browns are back-loading Landry’s contract with the idea that they could always cut him before paying some of that monster money.
Given all that, which team do you think is taking the better route: the Browns and Landry at $15.1M or the Dolphins with Amendola and Wilson for $14M?
It’s one thing to criticize poor play in the NFL, quite another to rip a team for effort.
Thursday morning, coach Adam Gase went after effort, blasting some of his players for going through the motions in a 24-16 loss at Buffalo that essentially ended the slim hopes this team had of turning around its season.
The Dolphins were coming off a resounding 27-20 upset of New England when they traveled to upstate New York and were flattened by the Bills, triggering a three-game losing streak as a 6-10 season ground to a halt.
“That game at Buffalo just seemed like a 20-hour game,” Gase said on Joe Rose’s show on WQAM-560AM. “I was just waiting for us to turn the corner and really get going and nothing was working for us. There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see. It wasn’t everybody. You turn on that tape, there are guys that stand out noticeably as far as their effort and their play that was extremely high, and they were giving everything they had. We just did not have enough guys doing that.
“That’s why we felt like we needed to change some things around.”
It was a stinging swipe by Gase, the likes of which we hadn’t heard since he blasted players’ study habits following the 40-0 shellacking at Baltimore in October.
Since Gase did not mention names, it’s natural to wonder whom he was criticizing.
The ironic part? Several of the departed were the team’s statistical leaders that day.
‘There was no swagger, no attitude, and it was disappointing to see.’ — Adam Gase, on some of his players’ lack of effort in Buffalo last season
Jarvis Landry, for example, was targeted 13 times and made 10 catches for a season-high 99 yards. Cody Parkey kicked field goals of 28, 41 and 26 yards and accounted for 10 of the 16 points. Ndamukong Suh had seven total tackles, including three for loss.
Other performances of note: Jay Cutler was 28 of 49 for 274 yards, was sacked three times, threw three interceptions, fumbled four times and had a passer rating of 47.5.
Among players still on the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake had 16 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, DeVante Parker was targeted 12 times and had six receptions for 89 yards and Kenny Stills was targeted six times, finishing with one catch for 8 yards. Jakeem Grant had a 16.5 average on two punt returns. The other top tacklers were Kiko Alonso (10) and Reshad Jones (seven).
The game got away from the Dolphins immediately, which ought to sound familiar. Buffalo drove 81 yards in 10 plays to open the game, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy. By halftime, it was 21-6, Bills.
In the grades I issue after every game, I ripped quarterback play (Grade: F) and manufactured the phrase “confoundingly erratic” to describe Cutler. I also took it out on linebackers, giving them a D, which, coincidentally, was the same grade I gave the coaching staff, saying it was “short on answers” after Buffalo took the lead. I said coaches exercised poor clock management late.
Pro Football Focus gave highest marks to Dolphins scheduled to return: T Sam Young (85.3), T Laremy Tunsil (81.9), DE Charles Harris (78.5), Parker (77.7), Drake (76.6) and LB Chase Allen (75.9). All are 25 or younger except Young, who is 30.
For amateur sleuths trying to sort culprits from innocents, there are scores of players no longer with the Dolphins who can’t be blamed because they were out injured that day, including Damien Williams, Jermon Bushrod, Michael Thomas and Nate Allen.
Mike Pouncey and Julius Thomas (two catches, 15 yards) started the game, Terrence Fede (two tackles) saw limited duty and Neville Hewitt saw spot duty. Matt Moore was inactive. Lawrence Timmons was in on 44 plays, 70 percent of the time, and finished with four tackles.
“We had a lot of good guys in that locker room that gave it everything they had and no matter what happened they never wavered and they just kept plugging away and we feel like we added good pieces to that group,” Gase said.
Here’s the bottom line: Next year at this time, neither Gase nor GM Chris Grier nor football operations chief Mike Tannenbaum will have any excuses. No one will care about “yeah, but” narratives. They’ve reshaped the roster as they wish. They’ve jettisoned some, put stock in others. Ditto for Gase’s assistants.
No, nobody should expect miracles following a 6-10 season, given the amount of talent lost. But if there aren’t tangible reasons for optimism on April 5, 2019, that’s a problem.