Tight end George Kittle is headed into the final year of his rookie deal with the San Francisco 49ers, but there’s been no movement on a contract that would keep him with the team beyond that. In fact, the two sides couldn’t be farther apart.
Kittle’s agent Jack Bechta told NFL Network that he and the 49ers are “not close at all” on a contract extension for Kittle, and there’s been no progress on extension talks since both sides started discussing things in February. Bechta is looking for a major payday for arguably the best tight end in the league, and he’s not letting the current salaries of other tight ends limit him.
“I don’t care about the tight end market,” Bechta said. “I'm being paid to do a George Kittle deal.”
The tight end market that Kittle and Bechta want to surpass has two players at the very top: Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper. Henry is the highest-paid tight end in the NFL with a $10.6 million salary. Hooper signed the largest-ever contract for a tight end this offseason, inking a four-year, $42 million deal with the Cleveland Browns.
As far as what kind of deal Kittle is looking for, Bechta hasn’t given any clues. With Kittle’s skill set and abilities, he could be trying to find the sweet spot between the highest-paid wide receivers ($20 million) and the average salary of the top 10 non-quarterback skill players ($16 million).
Kittle, who will make $735,000 this season, has more than earned a massive contract extension. In just three years he’s established himself as a top player and a constant threat on the field. He’s been selected to two straight Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro in 2019. In 45 career games, he has 216 receptions, 2,945 yards and 12 scores. Only Travis Kelce has more receiving yards over that span, but even Kelce can’t beat this: Kittle’s 2,945 total receiving yards are the most by a tight end in the first three years of their career.
Despite Kittle and the 49ers being far apart on a contract extension, general manager John Lynch is committed to keeping him with the team.
“George isn't going anywhere. We're going to work hard to try to get it done,” Lynch told 95.7 The Game. “I think they've got motivation just to reset the tight end market, as do we for him. It's just finding that sweet spot, where that is. [...] When that happens, I don't know. But we're working hard, as are they, to try to make that happen. George is going to be a part of the 49ers for a long, long time.”
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