The 49ers have locked down their Pro Bowl tight end for the foreseeable future, and made him the highest paid player at his position in history.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Niners and George Kittle have agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension that includes a significant amount of guaranteed money and an $18 million signing bonus.
The #49ers & star TE George Kittle are in agreement on a 5-year, $75M extension, sources tell me & @MikeSilver, one that gives him more than half of it in guarantees. Language is being worked on, but numbers are there. One of their top players, this was a big-time priority 💰💰💰— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 13, 2020
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, $30 million of Kittle’s contract will be guaranteed immediately, with $40 million guaranteed overall. That’s twice the guaranteed money of any other tight end in the NFL.
Kittle was supposed to be paid $2.1 million in 2020 for the final year of his rookie deal. This extension bumps Kittle up to $15 million a year, making him the highest-paid tight end ever. He easily beats Hunter Henry’s $10.6 million, which was the old record for tight end salaries and only a franchise tender in and of itself.
Highest-paid TE per season (new money average):— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 13, 2020
1. George Kittle: $15M
2. Hunter Henry: $10.609M (franchise tag)
3. Austin Hooper: $10.5M
4. Travis Kelce: $9.368M
T-5. Rob Gronkowski: $9M
T-5. Kyle Rudolph: $9M
Kittle, 26, was picked by the Niners in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, but he’s proven to be much more than fifth-round talent. In three years in the NFL, he has 216 receptions for 2,945 yards with 12 touchdowns. In 2018 he set the single-season receiving yards record for a tight end with 1,377. He’s been to the Pro Bowl twice and was a first-team All-Pro in 2019.
In other words, Kittle has earned this. This contract doesn’t just make him the highest-paid tight end ever, it transforms the market for one of the lowest-paid positions in football. And the Niners don’t have to worry about him catching passes for any other team for quite awhile.
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