With less than a month to go before the San Francisco 49ers are supposed to report for training camp, it still isn’t known if one of their leaders will be in attendance.
Tight end George Kittle still doesn’t have a new contract extension, which may lead to him holding out. Kittle held a conference call as part of a promotional campaign for Gatorade, and touched on if there is a chance he may not be at camp (h/t NBC Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco):
“Being a captain, I want to be there for my team, and I need to show the right leadership skills,”
Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, was also on the call, and chimed in with his opinion:
“At the end of the day, I trust the Niners will do the right thing and take good care of George, as they should. But I trust the process. I won’t comment where we’re at, or numbers or anything like that. But hopefully, it gets done.”
We are all hoping it gets done, Jack. There is no doubt about how valuable Kittle is to the Niners. The 26-year-old finished with 85 catches for 1053 yards and five touchdowns last season, but his impact goes beyond just being a pass catcher. Kittle is among the most dominant blockers in the game at his position.
Kittle is due to make just over $2 million this season and will command a massive raise. Cleveland Browns’ tight end Austin Hooper is the highest-paid tight end in the league at $10.5 million per year, and he can’t hold a candle to Kittle as a player.
Kittle’s extension could fall somewhere between $14 million and $18 million per season. One stumbling block in the negotiations is the impact of the economic fallout of the pandemic. The NFL salary cap will take a hit over the next few seasons, which will be a concern for a team like the Niners, who are already close to the ceiling.
I am confident general manager John Lynch and co. will get the deal done, but it may take some time. Kittle is one of the cornerstone pieces of the franchise and should be in a 49ers uniform for many years to come.
Do you think Kittle and the 49ers will reach an agreement prior to the start of training camp?