A decade after initially committing to play under Bill O'Brien in college, tight end Mike Gesicki is finally going to reunite with the now-Patriots offensive coordinator at the next level.
Gesicki signed a one-year deal worth up to $9 million with incentives to join New England in March, changing teams for the first time since joining the league. But before he started his NFL career, he played at Penn State, a school which he originally chose due to the reputation of then-head coach O'Brien.
"So I knew OB going all the way back to my high school days. So it was funny after we agreed on everything, and he called me ten years later now," Gesicki said, via the team's website. "But it's exciting to finally be able to play for him and already having those relationships formed, so I'm excited."
O'Brien gained a reputation for his work with tight ends during his first stint with the Patriots from 2007-2011, developing players such as Rob Gronkowski into elite pass-catching threats. The potential to learn from one of the best made joining O'Brien's team appealing to Gesicki, but O'Brien left Penn State to become the Texans' head coach before Gesicki could officially enroll.
It's now been ten years, and each has had their own separate journeys, with Gesicki going from Penn State to the Dolphins, and O'Brien spending seven years with Houston before a two-year stint with Alabama. But their paths both brought them to New England this year, where the duo will finally work together as the Patriots aim to improve a lackluster offense in 2023.
New England finished 20th and 19th in the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2022, and no receiver set to be on the roster this season had more than 540 receiving yards. The hope is that with O'Brien's return to the team with which he made his name, he will be able to build up the offense to become more competitive in the increasingly difficult AFC East.
And working with Gesicki, alongside tight end Hunter Henry, O'Brien will have the chance to replicate some of the success he saw earlier in his career with players at the position.
Gesicki spent the first five years of his career catching passes in Miami, establishing himself as a reliable presence lining up in multiple spots. He had his best years in 2020 and 2021, recording back-to-back seasons of 700-plus receiving yards, but saw a bit of a downturn in Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel's new system this last season, finishing with just 362 yards.
Now joining another team within the division and finally getting to work under the man he's idolized for so long, Gesicki hopes a "fresh start" in a new city will open up some new opportunities.
"I'm super fired up," he said. "Just know that I'm going to come in here and work hard every single day. … I like to enjoy myself, so I'm going to be out there enjoying myself, having fun and doing it all with a smile on my face and excited for this upcoming season."