Will there ever come a time when NFL tight ends hit the kind of money that wide receivers make? Especially in an offseason that’s seen Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and recently A.J. Brown score the big bucks?
One man was perfect in addressing that topic for tight ends — the “People’s Tight End” and the league’s richest tight end per Over the Cap in George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers in his Friday, May 20 interview with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Though Kittle is the league leader in top TE salary, the three-time Pro Bowler mentioned one name whose salary “boggles” his mind with how much he gets paid.
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Kittle’s Take on All-Pro Talent & Super Bowl Winner
Kittle got asked which tight end impresses him the most.
From there, Kittle began detailing the resume of one AFC star he called a “monster” and brought up the monetary aspect.
“I mean Travis Kelce, six seasons in a row, 1,000 yards,” Kittle said to Florio. “I’m pretty sure he has the most receiving yards over any wide receiver, skill position in the last six years. He gets paid half of what a wide receiver makes, which just boggles my mind.”
Kittle also praised the consistency of Kelce, who will soon hit 33 years of age during the 2022 season.
“I mean, to me, Travis Kelce, he’s been doing it for so long and at such a high level. And he doesn’t have an off game. I think he has one bad game a year, and it’s just because he’s getting triple-teamed.
“He’s a player I look at like, when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a monster,” Kittle continued. “More tight ends and more tight ends are starting to get the ball more, starting to be more part of the offense, be more explosive.”
But as far as Kelce’s salary is concerned, he’s behind Kittle in average salary per season at $14,312,500 per Spotrac. The highest Kelce can reach in base salary per his current deal is $16,250,000 — which is set to arrive in 2025. He’s not expected to become an unrestricted free agent until the 2026 offseason when he’s 37.
Kittle Raves About Other TE Talents
The All-Pro Kittle didn’t just name off Kelce as the only tight end he’s raved about. Along came five more.
“Love watching Darren Waller. [I] love watching Mark Andrews. [Zach] Ertz is really fun now down in Arizona. That’s just fun to see him just kind of dominate, getting a lot of touchdowns. [T.J.] Hockenson, [Robert] Tonyan. There’s all these tight ends that are explosive and fun to watch,” Kittle said.
Yet, Kittle pivoted back over to the Super Bowl 54 champion.
“But Kelce — when you have six 1,000 yards in a row, you’re hell of a football player,” Kittle said.
Perhaps eventually, Kittle and Kelce will be viewed as the guys who helped reset the market for tight ends. Kittle concluded by sharing this telling detail involving the position: Their true impact on championship teams.
“Every NFL team…that’s won a Super Bowl or been to the Super Bowl for like the last five years has had an All-Pro tight end a part of the team,” Kittle said. “I feel a tight end’s not just like a cog in the wheel, it’s an important position that can really add to your offense or diminish it.”