Aug. 13: Ian Rapoport and Michael Silver of NFL.com report that Kittle and the Niners are “closing in” on the extension, which sounds as though it could be finalized in the next day or two (Twitter link).
Aug. 12: George Kittle chimed in on his contract situation with the 49ers, shooting down a report that he had agreed to an extension (Twitter link). But the sides are hitting checkpoints as they work toward what will be a monster re-up.
The All-Pro tight end and the 49ers have made “healthier progress” on an extension agreement, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. This deal is expected to make Kittle the NFL’s highest-paid tight end by a significant margin. This has long been the expectation, with the tight end market barely moving over the past five years and Kittle emerging as one of the NFL’s best players over the past two.
Austin Hooper‘s $10.5MM-per-year Browns deal currently stands as the top tight end contract, though Hunter Henry‘s franchise tag came in at $10.6MM. Pro Football Focus’ top-graded player in 2019, Kittle has established himself on a higher tier than those two and almost every other active tight end. His 49ers extension is expected to bridge the gap between tight ends and higher-end wide receivers.
Earlier this week, Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, said progress remained elusive in his talks with the 49ers (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Michael Silver). But teams are set to begin full training camp workouts in less than a week. That will increase the risk Kittle takes by practicing under the terms of his fifth-round rookie contract. The star tight end is set to make barely $2MM in base salary this season.
With Deebo Samuel expected to miss time with a foot injury, the 49ers can be expected to lean heavier on Kittle. The Iowa product, who will turn 27 in October, has combined for 2,430 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past two seasons and has proven to be an elite run-blocking presence as well. It should be expected that Kittle’s deal will help pave the way for fellow All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and Pro Bowler Zach Ertz to sign lucrative third contracts.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.