The deal that the San Francisco 49ers have been working on all offseason is finally here, and it’s a monster.
After reports, back-and-forth and a lot of anxious fans on Twitter, tight end George Kittle’s agent has confirmed that the team has locked down the NFL star to a massive deal that sees the 2019 First-Team All-Pro make $15 a million a year on average.
The numbers are a bit less than the report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn, whose source said that Kittle would be averaging $15.8 million a year with a $25 million signing bonus.
That being said, the contract is still a massive one, that makes Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the NFL and sets the record for the biggest contract given at the position, while it ensures that the 49ers’ No. 1 weapon is in for the long haul.
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Details of the Contract
To say the least, Kittle is getting paid.
At $15 million a year on average, Kittle will be eclipsing the next closest contract for a tight end by about $4.4 million as Los Angeles Chargers star Hunter Henry is set to make $10.6 million over the duration of his contract with Los Angeles.
As mentioned in previous articles, it was unlikely that the 49ers could pay much more than somewhere around $15 million a year based on the current cap situation.
With the massive bonus, it allowed San Francisco to pay Kittle an exorbitant amount in 2020 as a payback for the former fifth-round draft pick’s cheap salary over his first three years in Santa Clara, California,
As Maiocco mentioned in his tweet above, there is a distinct difference between the initial guaranteed money and total guarantees.
For one, Kittle is getting a no-questions-asked $30 million in guaranteed money, which means that, barring some type of violation of the NFL’s rules or unlikely off-the-field action, that money is going to Kittle regardless of injury or play.
However, the additional $10 million depends on if Kittle hits the field. They aren’t incentive based, but as long as he’s on the roster, the remaining “guaranteed” money will head to Kittle as well.
Assessment of the Deal
The confirmed deal is even better than the initial reports. The 49ers were in a tight spot due to the fact that they technically only had $11.8 million in cap space to work with in 2020.
The fact that the team was able to navigate a contract of this magnitude while also securing the return of running back Raheem Mostert as well as sign role players like tight end Jordan Reed and defensive Dion Jordan deserves many plaudits.
A big part of this was satisfying Bechta and Kittle’s idea that the tight end is more than just a tight end, he’s one of the NFL’s very best offensive players. As Rob Lowder points out, they’ve pretty much done that with this contract.
Based on the talk throughout the offseason, Bechta and Kittle likely wanted a bit more. However, it’s not surprising that Kittle likely took a slight pay cut to stay with the 49ers.
He still gets paid, and the 49ers keep their Super Bowl window open. Everybody wins.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.