Could Darnell Washington be the Dolphins Mike Gesicki replacement?

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 27: Mike Gesicki #88 of the Miami Dolphins walks onto the field during an NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on December 27, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 27: Mike Gesicki #88 of the Miami Dolphins walks onto the field during an NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on December 27, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Dolphins’ tight end Mike Gesicki is set to become a free agent this spring and will command a big paycheck from whoever plans on signing him. The writing on the wall says Gesicki has played his final game as a Miami Dolphin.

The Dolphins have the 22nd most cap space in the NFL

After an offseason in 2022 in which the Dolphins spent $161 million on free agents, it is not surprising that Miami is under a strict budget in 2023.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, this means many of their own players with expiring contracts this offseason will not be returning to the team. That likely includes starting tight end Mike Gesicki, who will probably command more money than the Dolphins are willing to fork over.

How do the Dolphins replace Mike Gesicki?

Gesicki has been a productive receiving tight end for the past several seasons. Over the last four years, Gesicki has amassed a total of 2,415 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.

He has become a favorite target of Tua Tagovailoa and a safety net for every other quarterback who has played in relief effort. Losing a talent like Gesicki would be pretty detrimental to this Dolphins squad, not just for his production, but for his leadership and reputation of being a fantastic teammate.

I mean, look at this griddy.

However, there is always a new door that opens up when one door shuts, and that door goes by the name Darnell Washington from the University of Georgia.

Who is Darnell Washington?

Darnell Washington is arguably the best tight end to come out of this year’s draft class.

The 6’6, 264 lb behemoth of an offensive weapon has drawn many legendary comparisons, most notably long-time AFC East rival Rob Gronkowski after some impressive measurables at the NFL Combine this past week.

Washington had decent receiving numbers as a Georgia Bulldog in 2022, catching 28 balls for 454 yards and 2 touchdowns. But where Washington really shined was lined up in a three-point stance next to an offensive tackle.

Darnell Washington was essentially a sixth linemen for Georgia, who could block as well as any offensive tackle on the team, but could also accelerate off the line of scrimmage and get open downfield as well as any receiver on the field. Just watch this clip of Washington at the combine manhandling a sled, compared to the other tight end recruits.

After pushing that sled like it was a shopping cart, Washington then showed off his ability to be a dominant oversized receiver. As the tight ends were running fade routes against a pressed defender, Washington stepped up for his turn. And, well, he did this.

His talent show of a combine did not end there. He proceeded to record the fourth-highest shuttle time of all time by a tight end. His athleticism and elite footwork led him to produce a 4.08 second official shuttle run. For comparison, future All-Pro tight end Vernon Davis baffled scouts with a 4.17 many years ago. Pro Bowl wide receiver and freak-show of an athlete DK Metcalf ran a 4.5 shuttle cone in 2019.

The Dolphins would need to spend their earliest pick for Washington

It’s been stressed a lot, but the Dolphins do not have much draft capital this April. Their first selection in the draft is the 51st overall selection after surrendering their first-rounder.

Could Darnell Washington last to pick 51? Sure, especially with all the highly-coveted defensive prospects and the fact the tight end position is not normally an early-round selection, save for special prospects.

Darnell Washington is a special prospect and would, in my opinion, be well worth the 51st pick. The Dolphins could kill two birds at once — addressing the woes on the offensive line and replacing the production they would hypothetically lose in Mike Gesicki.

Of course, the Dolphins could use their early picks on more pressing needs, such as interior offensive linemen or cornerback, but the upside of what Darnell Washington could bring to the Dolphins’ offense makes him such an enticing option in the second round.

The versatility, athleticism and pure strength of Washington is generational and it shows on tape, especially when he’s lined up tight in a three-point stance. Here are some clips of him run-blocking as a sixth offensive linemen at Georgia.

The bottom line is Washington is extremely hard to pass up, especially considering the fact Mike Gesicki will most likely not be in a Dolphins uniform in 2023. When you have the chance to quickly replace a player of his caliber, you should do it.