Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

49ers insider discusses the possibility of George Kittle holding out for a new contract

Jul 8, 2020 at 10:29 AM--

You probably remember Matt Barrows of The Athletic earlier this month revealing that "someone in the know" felt the San Francisco 49ers and tight end George Kittle would ultimately land on a contract extension worth around $13 million a year.

Barrows also discussed the possibility of Kittle playing hardball with the 49ers, and refusing to report to training camp. The reporter couldn't envision that happening given the tight end's character and actions this offseason.

"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."

Another trusted 49ers insider, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, recently joined the My Sports Update podcast and painted a very different picture of what might happen.

"I don't know how [a deal] gets done, to be honest with you," Maiocco said, "because I don't think 13-and-a-half million is going to cut it. I think that probably would have been the price they would have taken during the season.

"This is going to be fascinating to watch because I don't know that it makes a whole lot of sense for George Kittle to step on the practice field again without a new deal. I mean, he is so grossly underpaid right now. He's going to be making a little more than two million a year with that player-performance escalator that kicks in on the fourth year of his deal.

"I don't know where this goes, and I don't know how much hardball they're going to play. But there are a lot of agents that would say, 'You're holding out. You've far exceeded your contract. You've made just a fraction, a tenth of what you should have made over the first three years of that deal. You're not going to put yourself at risk unless that team steps forward and gives you what you deserve.'

"So Jack Bechta (Kittle's agent) and George Kittle can certainly play hardball. The 49ers are in a position where they don't want to give out a big-time contract when there are so many unknowns, especially where the salary cap is going."

The COVID-19 pandemic has created so much uncertainty when it comes to the upcoming season and the future financial state of the NFL. Most once assumed that the salary cap would see a significant increase next year. No one is thinking that now. In fact, many believe a drop — maybe a considerable drop — to be a possibility.

Right now, Hunter Henry of the Los Angeles Chargers is the highest-paid tight end at just over $10.6 million when it comes to average salary earned. Of course, his deal is of the one-year variety, whereas No. 2 on the list, Austin Hooper of the Cleveland Browns, sits at $10.5 million per year on a multi-year deal.

Kittle and his agent hope to significantly shatter that ceiling and reset the tight end market with a big-time deal from San Francisco.

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