It’s July, which means the San Francisco 49ers will report to training camp at the end of the month on July 28. One of the hottest offseason topics has been whether or not star tight end George Kittle would report to training camp without a new contract. Some analysts believe Kittle’s deal would reset the tight end market and blow it out of the water as he’d make around $20 million annually.
Much of the conversation for Kittle making that much is due to two deals the 49ers have handed out. If Arik Armstead or Dee Ford are making north of $16 million, why should Kittle settle for less if he means more to the team? Well, positional value is a real thing and has to be factored in. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows said in his mailbag that he spoke to “someone in the know” and they expect Kittle’s deal to come in around $13 million per season:
I recently spoke with someone in the know who said he thought Kittle ultimately would land a contract worth $13 million a year. That’s not the spectacular deal some were envisioning for the 49ers’ indispensable man, but it would still set the pace for all tight ends. Striking a deal that puts a player in line with a different position group — in Kittle’s case, wide receivers — is tough in any offseason and is even more difficult in this offseason of uncertainty.
Barrows went on to say that it’s possible a situation unravels where Kittle refuses to report—a situation akin to the Jets and Jamal Adams happens, but Barrows doesn’t foresee that happening. Kittle seems like the type of player that loves the game so much and understands how much he means to this organization where he wouldn’t put himself ahead of the team. That’s easy to say on July 1, but what if there is no change in contract negotiations from now until then?
There are a lot of guessing games going on here, but if Barrows source is correct, then getting Kittle at $13 million a year is the best-case scenario for the 49ers and likely would allow them to continue to be aggressive during the season when it comes to trades and in free agency next offseason, where the 49ers may have to spend big on a pass rusher or cornerback. These two positions generally cost a pretty penny.