There were high expectations for the Patriots to improve their roster this offseason dramatically, and although that's typical of any team in the league, most were hoping to see a repeat of 2021 free-agency spending to get the team back to winning important games.
Even though that didn't happen, Bill Belichick made some good decisions about who they chose to sign.
The most discussed signing continues to be wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, primarily due to it came with losing fan favorite Jakobi Meyers to the Raiders. But one of the more under-the-radar signings deemed unexciting has caught the attention of those around the league, with one rival coach proclaiming it a vital signing for Mac Jones and Bill O'Brien.
Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston shared insight from his conversation with a defensive coach on an episode of “Boston Sports Tonight” on Thursday, detailing what the coach had to say about the Patriots' signing of tight end Mike Gesicki earlier this year.
“I got off the phone with a rival defensive assistant (Wednesday). He told me that he thinks that Gesicki’s gonna catch the ball a ‘bleep-ton.’ And part of it is he believes in Gesick’s skill set. Now, he’s not a true tight end, he told me. He’s at the bottom of the league in terms of blocking at that position. But he’s still a freaky athlete. … He can function in the red zone; he can be a vertical threat down the middle of the field.
And this coach thought that was important for both Mac Jones and Bill O’Brien. … Mac Jones, his strength is in the middle of the field as well. So, if he can get a vertical threat down the middle of the field, which Gesicki is, I think he could end up being the one pass-catcher in their offense that defenses actually have to game plan for. To me, he might be the only guy that fits that category.”
Gesicki's addition to the offense may become far more impactful than initially planned. He may not be a Rob Gronkowski (obviously), but he could help open the field for Hunter Henry while also becoming a significant red zone threat that the Patriots have been missing in recent years.
It was already made apparent that the plan is to have Gesicki used more as an extra receiver since he is not an effective blocker like a traditional tight end, and he's proven to be an offensive threat as he was one of the most productive players at the positions 2019 through 2021.
In those three seasons, he totaled 177 receptions for 2,053 yards and 13 touchdowns in 48 games.
In comparison, Henry's stats during those three seasons were 165 receptions for 1,868 yards and 18 touchdowns in 43 games.
Although Gesicki had a down year last season, the Patriots know precisely what they're getting from the tight end. Facing off against the Dolphins twice a season will quickly familiarize you with opposing players.
Clearly, Belichick brought the tight end in with the belief he would be more productive than Jonnu Smith during his failed tenure with the team, who was traded to the Falcons in March of this year. If the defensive coach Perry spoke to recently is right with his assessment of Gesicki, then the Patriots may have made one of the best free-agent signings in recent years.