As the Miami Dolphins prepare for the 2021 NFL season, there have several important contract situations lurking on the horizon.
The Dolphins have a whopping 22 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason, a list that includes a handful of front-line players.
The list includes defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, new wide receiver Will Fuller V and a pair of 2018 draft picks, Mike Gesicki and Jerome Baker.
The big question, of course, is whether the Dolphins will sign one or more of those pending free agents to extensions — and, if so, when.
Based on recent history, don't hold your breath if you happen to be one of those pending UFAs.
Since 2017, the Dolphins have given out 16 contract extensions, the latest being Jason Sanders' five-year extension this past February.
But the previous five extensions all were done during a regular season — Allen Hurns, Eric Rowe and DeVante Parker in 2019, and Adam Shaheen and Zach Sieler last year.
Of the 16, only two extensions were signed between the beginning of May and the end of August — the four-year extension signed by Bobby McCain in June 2018 and the five-year extension signed by Xavien Howard in May 2019.
Of the four most prominent pending free agents mentioned earlier, only Gesicki was spotted during the OTA open to the media Wednesday, though that's not to suggest that any of the other three were absent because of their contract situation — and, remember, this is a voluntary portion of the offseason program.
Gesicki addressed the media via Zoom after the OTA and his contract situation did come up, though it was clear that if he's worried about his next contract he certainly wasn't going to discuss it publicly.
“It’s crazy honestly," Gesicki said about going into his fourth year in the NFL. "It goes fast. I know that sounds cliché and you guys want to hear me say something more interesting than that, but it goes fast. It’s crazy I’m already going into Year 4. But I’m just continuing to learn, trying to maybe expand my role. Right now, I’m just coming in here each and every day just hammering down the playbook, trying to learn this stuff and be able to be as versatile as possible for my position, so that’s really what I’m looking for.”
Gesicki's future became more cloudy when the Dolphins used a third-round pick in the 2021 draft on Hunter Long from Boston College, adding to a tight end group that already included Shaheen, free agent acquisition Cethan Carter and fellow pending UFA Durham Smythe.
But when asked whether he took it personally that the Dolphins drafted Long, he wasn't biting. On the contrary, he decided to have fun with the question.
“I haven’t talked to Hunter since he’s been here, like, I’ve got no interest in it," Gesicki said, laughing. "No, I’m happy with it. I like Hunter. We’ve been just getting to know him. He’s a good kid. He just graduated on Monday, so congratulations to him. Go Eagles. We’re happy to have him here. Good player, good kid, smart kid and I think he can just add another element to our offense. If you know anything about the tight end brotherhood, we’re all happy for each other. We’re all excited for one another, so when we drafted him, I just thought more opportunity for the tight end room. I’m excited for him and his career.”
When it comes to his own career, there's some uncertainty as to where it will take him in 2022, and the same goes for all the other pending UFAs on the roster. And the uncertainty just might last a while.
MIAMI DOLPHINS PENDING UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
LB Jerome Baker, joined Dolphins in 2018
LB Vince Biegel, joined Dolphins in 2019
QB Jacoby Brissett, joined Dolphins in 2021
RB Malcolm Brown, joined Dolphins in 2021
CB Justin Coleman, joined Dolphins in 2021
T D.J. Fluker, joined Dolphins in 2021
WR Robert Foster, joined Dolphins in 2021
WR Will Fuller V, joined Dolphins in 2021
TE Mike Gesicki, joined Dolphins in 2018
WR Mack Hollins, joined Dolphins in 2019
DT John Jenkins, joined Dolphins in 2021
DB Jason McCourty, joined Dolphins in 2021
DE Emmanuel Ogbah, joined Dolphins in 2020
P Michael Palardy, joined Dolphins in 2021
T Adam Pankey, joined Dolphins in 2019
LB Duke Riley, joined Dolphins in 2021
LB Elandon Roberts, joined Dolphins in 2020
LB Brennan Scarlett, joined Dolphins in 2021
C Matt Skura, joined Dolphins in 2021
TE Durham Smythe, joined Dolphins in 2018
C Cameron Tom, joined Dolphins in 2021
WR Albert Wilson, joined Dolphins in 2018