FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent tight end Mike Gesicki that is worth up to $9 million, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Field Yates.
Gesicki will pair with veteran Hunter Henry to give the Patriots a tight end duo the team hoped it was getting when it signed Henry and Jonnu Smith to big-money deals in free agency in 2021. The team traded Smith to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday for a seventh-round draft pick.
Gesicki had been recruited to Penn State by new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien in 2014 and committed to the school. But O'Brien soon departed to become coach of the Houston Texans, while Gesicki stayed at Penn State. Now they are reunited in New England.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has long admired Gesicki, saying in recent years: "He's a hard guy to cover. Long. Crafty route runner. He can get down the field. Very good hands. Makes some acrobatic catches, has enough quickness to separate. He's really, I would say, more of a big receiver than a true tight end, but he functions a little bit in that spot."
Coming off a career season in 2021, Gesicki had a sharp statistical decline in 2022 as he wasn't a hand-in-glove fit in new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel's offensive scheme, which requires proficient blocking from tight ends.
Gesicki, 27, caught only 32 passes for 362 yards -- his lowest totals in both categories since his 2018 rookie season -- while seeing action on just 451 offensive snaps after ceding his starting job to Durham Smythe late in training camp. As a comparison, Gesicki caught 73 passes for 780 yards -- both career highs -- on 784 offensive snaps in 2021.
Gesicki played the 2022 season -- his fifth with the Dolphins -- on the franchise tag worth $10.931 million.
His 6-foot-6 frame -- and his ability to flex to the slot or out wide -- presents a size advantage over defensive backs and a speed advantage over linebackers who cover him.
In five seasons, Gesicki, a second-round pick, has 231 receptions for 2,617 yards -- an average of 11.3 yards per catch -- and 18 touchdowns.
ESPN's Marcel Louis-Jacques and Matt Bowen contributed to this report.