As George Kittle approaches the final year of his four-year rookie contract, Kittle is scheduled to earn just 2.13 million dollars despite being one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL over the last three years.
When the NFL makes its long-awaited return, the 49ers will begin their redemption tour after a disappointing loss in the Super Bowl. A key piece for the Superbowl run and former Hawkeye, George Kittle, will likely be apart of that future.
As Kittle and the 49ers begin extension talks it is possible that Kittle earns only 2.13 million dollars next season. That number would be, well, a joke by all sense of the word. But the 49ers, if they choose to do so, can hold out and not pay Kittle his money.
Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper are both earning 10.5 million dollars next season if the 49ers hold out and Kittle plays next season earning 20% of their salaries is asinine considering the production. Sure Henry and Hooper are great tight-ends but their not George Kittle. In fact, no tight end in the NFL right now is George Kittle.
Therefore, Kittle will be looking for wide receiver money or at least significantly more than the highest-paid tight end right now. The 49ers front office seems to be on the same page. John Lynch said in an interview on 95.7 The Game “George isn’t going anywhere” later elaborating with “We’re going to work hard to try to get it done. I think they’ve got motivation just to really reset the tight end market, as do we, for him. It’s just finding that sweet spot, where that is.”
George Kittle is going to completely transcend the tight-end free agency market, that is a fact. But how high can he go? I mean when you look at his production in the passing game, it was on pace with Amari Cooper. Kittle caught 6.1 balls for 75.2 yards per game and 5 touchdowns in 14 games while Cooper caught 4.9 balls per game for 74.3 yards and 8 touchdowns in 16 games. Cooper signed for 5 years 100 million dollars this offseason.
Granted, Kittle doesn’t boast the same deep threat as Cooper. But Cooper also doesn’t even close to matching up to Kittle’s production in one of the leagues best rushing attacks.
Most respected football minds (Dan Gotlieb who memorably called Kittle “not really a blocker” is in my opinion not a respected football mind but that is beside the point) recognize Kittle as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. And it showed in the 49ers run game, who ranked second in yards and scored the most touchdowns on the ground in the NFL last season. Granted the 49ers have an incredible offensive line, but Kittle’s piece of the puzzle can not be undervalued.
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With John Lynch seemingly on board, the numbers for the former Hawkeye could be higher than even some experts predict. NFL.com projected Kittle’s extension to be $12 million+, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was even higher. A 23-year-old tight end who can do it all, is seemingly liked by all his teammates, AND a former Hawkeye? Break out the blank check!
Kittle becoming the highest-paid tight end in NFL history bodes well in recruiting, and Iowa has already capitalized. Including Elijah Yelverton, a class of 2020 four-star recruit and three-star Sam Laporta who has Hawkeye fans dreaming of being the next great Iowa tight end after a promising true freshman campaign last season in 2019.
As Iowa tight ends continue to succeed at the next level, it only adds validity to being TE U, and at this point how is it even a conversation? The best tight end in the league combined with two young guys both poised for breakout seasons? It’s not even a debate anymore, Iowa is Tight End U and George Kittle’s massive extension proves that.