Now we know why the 49ers haven’t given George Kittle his mega contract extension yet.
According to the NFL Network’s Mike Silver, Kittle wants more money than the 49ers would like to pay him. “They are not close at all,” Silver said. “There were some preliminary talks back in February. Nothing for the last couple months.”
The 49ers want to pay Kittle like a great tight end, meaning $13 million or $14 million per season, probably somewhere around there. A record-setting contract for a tight end. But Kittle wants to be paid like a wide receiver, meaning $18 million or $19 million per season, probably somewhere around there. Big difference.
“I don’t see how you can pay him like a tight end,” Silver said. “There was a stat heading into the Super Bowl that with Kittle in the lineup, runs outside the tackles averaged 5.6 yards. Without him -- 3.3. So maybe he needs to be paid like a left tackle, or a wide receiver. But I don’t think the tight-end market is cutting it.”
For the record, Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper makes $20 million per season. Kittle’s agent easily could argue that Kittle is better than Cooper and worth more money.
“I’ve been talking a lot to his agent, Jack Bechta the past few months,” Silver said, “and he has consistently said, ‘I don’t care about the tight end market. I’m being paid to do a George Kittle deal.’ And I tend to agree with him here. He is their No. 1 target, so important in that locker room. And clearly, he is doing something that transcends what a typical tight end does.”
Kittle’s agent can make a great case that his client is one of the best, most impactful offensive skill players in the NFL, meaning tight end, wide receiver or running back. He’s that good. But the 49ers still might not pay him what he’s worth, especially now, given the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season.
“This is a difficult situation,” Silver said, “because during a pandemic owners are not super eager to shell out massive deals. There’s a lot of uncertainty. And so I’m not sure how much of this situation can be attributed to the unique Covid-19 situation, and how much of it is just a gap in how each side views this. I know there’s a lot of good intentions. You talk to the 49ers and they say, ‘We want him, we will get this done.’ I know George Kittle wants to be there, but they have a ways to go in terms of figuring out his value.”
A ways to go?
Doesn’t sound like Kittle will get that mega deal any time soon.