How George Kittle’s 49ers contract hurts another NFC contestant’s future


George Kittle made it to 49ers training camp on time and without complaint, despite the desire to sign a massive contract extension. His reasoning was simple: leaders put the team first.

Holding doesn’t do that. It’s inherently selfish, although it’s the rare way for a player to gain some leverage in an NFL ecosystem where teams hold all the assets.

It also preserves health in a violent game, where even a training injury can end a career. If a player suffers something catastrophic before signing an extension, he gets nothing. It’s a big risk, it’s unclear whether Kittle would have taken it when the 49ers were training fully for the first time on Saturday.

It’s a moot point now that Kittle has agreed to terms of a contract extension, except to illustrate that even flexible deadlines push back deals. If the negotiation could have been complicated by the pandemic and its position, all’s well that ends well.

This is where we are now, with smiles all around. Therefore, it is not necessary to declare a winner in this agreement.

The 49ers have recognized an invaluable player who is as important as any non-quarterback at what they do. Kittle is surely happy and at ease and feels valued and completely focused on football. His teammates saw firsthand that hard work and talent pay off.

Kittle has been rewarded in a big way. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reported, according to Kittle’s agent, that the five-year pact is worth up to $ 75 million, with a signing bonus of $ 18 million, with $ 30 million guaranteed to the signing and $ 40 million in comprehensive guarantees.

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The deal gives the tight end-market the hard reset it deserves, pushing the tide into stagnant waters since Jimmy Graham signed a big contract in 2014.

Despite being the elite limited money, 11 receivers still receive more than Kittle’s average of $ 15 million per season. It’s Jarvis Landry’s money. That’s less than the cost of Adam Theilen.

Surround your brain with that.

Through this lens, it’s an absolute steal for the 49ers and exposes a key fact about valuing NFL players: Positional markets are dumb.

Kittle’s monetary value was affected because there is a “TE” next to his name on the toggle card. Elite centers, safeties and linebackers suffer from the same disease. They are framed by position, which caps their value.

It is, in a word, stupid.

[[[[RELATED: George Kittle, 49ers reach only a reasonable destination with extension]

There should be exceptions to every rule, especially the illogical one, and Kittle’s certainly.

It’s not a tight end or a catcher. He’s a unicorn, an ideal player and a locker room presence and easily the most impactful non-quarterback on the 49ers roster.

The financial constraints of the tight end don’t apply to defensive tackles, which made the difficult choice to trade DeForest Buckner a little easier. They had a first-round pick to use for a cheaper replacement, taking Javon Kinlaw on a rookie deal for having to pay Buckner the average annual salary of $ 21 million Indianapolis gave him.

It also provided some flexibility in getting that deal done with Kittle, knowing full well that the 49ers have some tough decisions to make with young talent deserving big raises in the near future.

Kittle had to be done, and the 49ers were smart to avoid the awkwardness that comes with the hardball game. They didn’t skimp on guarantees. There was no franchise tag threat going forward. No missed practice came into play.

They did well thanks to a vital player for the 49ers who won a Lombardi Trophy through this currently open championship window. The market reset deal also gave the tight ends a little more respect – it’s no coincidence that Travis Kelce was also extended on Thursday – after years of underpayment.

Therefore, it is not necessary to declare a winner in this case. It’s a rare win-win.


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