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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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Kyle Juszczyk once again ranked NFL’s biggest outlier contract in 2020

Jul 27, 2020 at 6:13 AM--

Kyle Juszczyk is entering the final year of his four-year, $21 million deal. That is a lot of money for a fullback. Of course, few play-callers value the position as much as San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN once again ranked the NFL's biggest outlier contracts in 2020, and for the fourth year in a row, Juszczyk's deal comes in at No. 1. The deal is a whopping 132 percent above the position average. That's a significant gap.

"The gap between him and the rest of the pack has fallen after the (Derek) Watt and (C.J.) Ham contracts were signed, but there's still a huge space between the 49ers' fullback and everyone else in the league," wrote Barnwell.

Juszczyk proved his worth in 2019. Barnwell had questioned his value in previous years. Not this time. San Francisco was significantly better with its fullback out on the field.

"Juszczyk was a productive player in a great offense," added Barnwell. "To start with the simple stuff, he fumbled four times on just 78 touches between 2017 and 2018, the sort of astronomical rate that makes it exceedingly difficult to be valuable with the ball in your hands. Last season, he didn't fumble in his 23 touches and turned 12 of those touches into first downs. He added a touchdown and two first downs on three catches in the Super Bowl."

Barnwell notes that the threat of the 49ers' potent rushing attack out of 21 personnel creates significant passing opportunities. While Juszczyk deserves some credit for that, the ESPN writer wonders how much of that is more Shanahan's scheme rather than the fullback's talent.

Barnwell acknowledges that Juszczyk is probably the best fullback in the league. Is he, however, that much better than other fullbacks as his contract indicates?

"Probably not," responded Barnwell. "At the end of the day, the 49ers could scout a fullback, plug him in and probably do just fine at a fraction of the cost."

Remember, the salary cap is expected to see a significant drop next year—potentially from $198.2 million to $175 million. Juszczyk could be back with the 49ers in 2021, but it may not be at the price tag he has garnered in his first four seasons with San Francisco.

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