George Kittle seeking contract separate from tight end market, far apart in talks with 49ers, per report

George Kittle is set to become the highest-paid tight end in football, even though the All-Pro is seeking even greater heights with his next contract. Kittle is looking for a contract that sets his pay rate among the top left tackles and wide receivers, as the Pro Bowl tight end is far apart in extension talks with San Francisco. 

“I don’t care about the tight end market, I’m getting paid to do a George Kittle deal,” Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, told NFL Network’s Mike Silver. 

What exactly is a “George Kittle deal,” and how does that shape up with the other tight ends? Hunter Henry is the highest-paid tight end at $10.607 million, but he is also on the franchise tag. Austin Hooper signed the biggest deal for a tight end in NFL history at four years and $42 million with the Cleveland Browns, an average annual salary at $10.5 million. 

Kittle is looking for a deal beyond that and has a case given his resume after three seasons in the league. Not only is Kittle arguably the best blocking tight end in the game, his 2,945 receiving yards are the second-most among tight ends and his 13.63 yards per catch is the second-highest among his position (min. 250 targets). 

Kittle has 173 catches for 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons, both Pro Bowl appearances. He set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018 with 1,377. Kittle is heading into the final year of his rookie contract with a cap hit of $2,207,574, so an extension is in order. 

As former NFL agent and CBS Sports NFL writer Joel Corry points out, the long-term contracts of the NFL’s 15 highest-paid pass catchers, all wide receivers, average approximately $16.375 million per year with close to $45 million in overall guarantees. This makes it unlikely the 49ers could give Kittle a deal similar to a left tackle and wide receiver, which could stall talks even further. 

Resetting the tight end market is more likely for Kittle at this point than being paid among the best players at another position. 

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