NFL free agency: Patriots give Mac Jones another big tight end in Mike Gesicki

The New England Patriots have a thing for tight ends. Since losing Rob Gronkowski prior to the 2019 NFL season, the Patriots have tried to find the right combination of playmakers at the position.

That trend continued Friday, as the team reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with former Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Gesicki can reportedly make up to $9 million in the deal.

Gesicki, a former second-round pick, caught 32 passes for 362 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2022. He was deprioritized in the Dolphins' new offensive system, which saw the addition of Tyreek Hill last offseason. Gesicki's numbers were better in 2021, when he caught 73 passes for 780 yards.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke highly about Gesicki in the past, calling him a "hard guy to cover."

Belichick also referred to Gesicki as "more of a big receiver than a true tight end," which could provide insight into how the Patriots will use him.

Patriots committed to having two strong tight ends

The move gives the Patriots two above-average pass catchers at tight end. The team tried to employ that strategy in 2021, when it signed both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to big contracts. The Henry signing worked out. He served as a reliable target for quarterback Mac Jones the past two seasons, with 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns since joining the Patriots.

The Smith signing was less successful. He had 539 yards and 1 touchdown in his two seasons with the team.

The move also adds to the Patriots' rebuilt offense. The team allowed wideout Jakobi Meyers to walk in free agency. Meyers signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Patriots replaced him with JuJu Smith-Schuster, who the team signed to an identical three-year, $33 million deal.

New England is looking for more offensive production after finishing 17th in points scored in 2022. The team ranked sixth in that category in 2021.