The Miami Dolphins tight end position will be in the crosshairs again this offseason

So far in the Mike McDaniel era, the Miami Dolphins have not prioritized the TE position and it is doubtful they do again this year.
Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe (81) runs with the
Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe (81) runs with the / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins don't know how to use a tight end in their offense but they claim they don't need one like other teams.

There was a consistent position with all four NFL championship teams this year. Each of the four, Chiefs, 49ers, Ravens, and Lions all featured a productive TE. The Miami Dolphins don't see that as an important element of their offense, at least not in terms of offensive strategy.

For the Dolphins, TE is another tackle to help the running game and occasionally, they get to run a passing route. For fans, it's frustrating to see other teams find so much success with the position.

When the Dolphins added Mike Gesicki six years ago, we thought they were finally addressing the issue but Gesicki couldn't block and that made his game one-dimensional. So much so that he was relegated to a slot receiver role and played like a WR.

Entering 2024, fans are already clamoring for a draft prospect and looking at potential free agents but what is the status of the Dolphins unit currently? It wasn't good last year so it won't be good next year without changes.

Durham Smythe - Smythe got the extension that Gesicki did not. He has been a good blocking TE and can be used as a pass-catcher from time to time. He is reliable and consistent but he isn't elite or close to it. Smythe would be the 2nd TE on most NFL teams, in Miami, he is number one. Smythe is under contract for the 2024 season and will enter the year penciled in as the starter.

Julian Hill - An undrafted free agent in 2023, the Dolphins put too much pressure on Hill and in the process gave up a couple of touchdowns, focusing on a TE in the red zone that lacked consistency and experience. Hill is under contract for 2024 and will count just under $1 million in cap space.

Tyler Kroft - Kroft was a vet addition ahead of the 2023 season but his impact on the roster wasn't seen outside of blocking. Kroft played in 8 games for the Dolphins in 2023 but took only 8% of the offensive snaps for a total of 43 plays. For comparison, Hill was involved in 35% of the offensive snaps in games he played. He is an impending free agent that shouldn't be brought back in 2024.

Tanner Conner - Conner has been with the Dolphins for two seasons and so far, has only 3 targets in 16 appearances with the team. All of those came in 2022. Last year, he only played in 3 games. He is currently signed under the reserve/futures option but he doesn't add much to the offense right now.

In 2023, the Dolphins entered the offseason needing to address the TE position. Many believed they would take a TE in the draft, they did not. In free agency, Miami's decisions left fans certain that the draft would be a priority. Miami signed Eric Saubert who many believed would take on a bigger role within the offense. He didn't.

What will 2024 look like for the Miami Dolphins at the tight end position?

It's too early to dive into the free agent market but if Dolphins fans think the position will be a priority they might want to step back. Chris Grier doesn't prioritize the position and Mike McDaniel seems to not put much weight on it either. With holes on both sides of the ball, TE may not get addressed to the level fans would like to see.

If the Dolphins do want to address the position in free agency, four potential free agents could fit within the Dolphins system.

  • Dalton Shultz - Houston
  • Gerald Everett - Chargers
  • Irv Smith - Bengals
  • Ross Dwelley - San Francisco