Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Barrows: ‘Someone in the know’ feels George Kittle, 49ers could land on a contract worth $13 million a year

Jul 1, 2020 at 9:47 AM--

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the long-term contract for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle. Some even feel a new deal could fetch the All-Pro an annual salary up to $20 million.

Naturally, when one person starts talking about those kinds of numbers, everyone does.

That would shatter the ceiling of the tight end market. Right now, the top salaries for the position group remain under $11 million. To nearly double that when next year's salary cap situation remains uncertain might not be in the San Francisco 49ers' best interests, and at least one person doesn't believe it will come to that.

"I recently spoke with someone in the know who said he thought Kittle ultimately would land a contract worth $13 million a year," wrote Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "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."

It wasn't too long ago that many expected the salary cap to see a record increase next year, thanks to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and an anticipated new television deal for the league. It's a near certainty that won't happen thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, now, it's entirely possible the salary cap drops in 2021, which could send many NFL teams, like the 49ers, scrambling to get underneath it. That all depends on how big a drop that would be.

Canceled games or zero fans in the stands could undoubtedly contribute to the worst-case scenario.

As for Kittle, could the tight end play hardball with the Niners and refuse to report to training camp? It's possible. Barrows, however, can't envision that happening.

"That's just not who Kittle is," Barrows explained. "He's been taking part in all of the Zoom classroom sessions this offseason. He was on hand for the workouts in Nashville. My guess — and it's just a guess — is that he'd report on time even without a new deal. But it would be much better for everyone involved if there was one in place."

General manager John Lynch in May said that the 49ers tried to get a deal done with Kittle in the weeks after the Super Bowl — before COVID-19 impacted our daily lives — but the two sides weren't able to find that "sweet spot." Locking up the tight end remains a priority, but Lynch isn't willing to put a timetable on when that might happen.

"We've got to find the right deal, and we'll continue working towards that," Lynch said in May. "We're not going to put any timetable on that. But George is certainly is a priority for us. We love everything about him. We love everything he brings to the Niners."

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