San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch received a few questions about some future extensions the team will have to decide on. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the 49ers will try to do a massive extension for star tight end George Kittle and may franchise edge rusher, Arik Armstead, as well. We are talking about two top-five-ish players on the roster, to the importance of these decisions is significant. Both players just turned 26-years old, so they’ll be in their prime during this next contract they receive.
Lynch was asked if the franchise tag was a real possibility for Armstead, who said on Wednesday he’s not opposed to being tagged: “Arik is an excellent player. He had an excellent year. I think everything is on the table. We want to find a way to keep him and make him a part of the 49ers for a long time.”
Lynch was asked if it’s possible to balance some of restructures (the 49ers have restructured Weston Richburg’s contract as well as Kwon Alexander’s) so that the team can re-sign the players they need or make an addition in the offseason:
“I think someone was asking me, characterize our situation. It’s not bleak. It’s not like some people where you have to cut players just to be able to meet certain deals. I think more so understanding that there are players that are really good players we want to take care of, knowing it is tight. There may have to be tradeoffs along the way. But, I think we’re in a good position to find a way to certainly keep the core together and even like I said our mindset to improve it.”
Good luck figuring out what Kittle is worth. If you polled 100 people, 98 would tell you Kittle is the best player on the 49ers. It’s not often you can say that about a tight end. Still, there aren’t many tight ends in the history of the sport that has had an impact on their offense as Kittle has during his early career in San Francisco — having trouble picking up blitzes or defensive linemen? Kittle can block them on the edge or in the backfield. Need help getting to the edge in your running game? No. 85 will block your edge rusher, linebacker, or safety into the sideline. Oh, and he’s a decent pass catcher as well.
It’s tough to get a good read on the tight end market because there isn’t one. Looking at the highest-paid tight ends in the league annually, and the top six are all over 30-years old. They’re each making between $8-10 million a season. You’re kidding yourself if you think Kittle will make fewer than $15 million a season. The highest guaranteed contract in the league is Trey Burton of the Bears (not counting T.J. Hockenson’s rookie deal), who signed a deal that gave him $18 million guaranteed. It’s not unreasonable to think Kittle gets top-10 wide receiver money. The 49ers could be looking at a five-year, $55-60 million contract with upwards to $30+ million guaranteed. Prepare yourself for Kittle to break the bank and completely reset the tight end market.
I’d hand Kittle a blank check and let him fill it out. He’s that good. Seriously, though, what number would be too much, and what are you expecting Kittle’s contract to look like?