George Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers haven’t made much progress on a new contract, with his agent saying he is looking for more than a deal that makes Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.
“I don’t care about the tight end market,” Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, told NFL Network. “I’m being paid to do a George Kittle deal.”
Kittle, 26, is set to make $735,000 in 2020 on the final year of his rookie contract.
This offseason, Austin Hooper signed the largest contract for a tight end: four years, $42 million with the Cleveland Browns. Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is set to make the most money this year, $10,607,000 on the franchise tag.
Kittle, a first-team All-Pro in 2019, appears to be aiming higher. The top-paid wide receivers, like the Atlanta Falcons‘ Julio Jones and the Dallas Cowboys‘ Amari Cooper, are making $20 million per season or more, while the top 10 non-quarterback skill position players average at least $16 million.
NFL Network reported that Kittle’s side and the 49ers engaged in preliminary negotiations in February but that they haven’t talked for the past few months, though that could be due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, general manager John Lynch said the 49ers plan to keep Kittle around for the long term.
“George isn’t going anywhere. We’re going to work hard to try to get it done,” Lynch told KGMZ-FM 95.7 The Game. “I think they’ve got motivation just to reset the tight end market, as do we for him. It’s just finding that sweet spot, where that is. … When that happens, I don’t know. But we’re working hard, as are they, to try to make that happen. George is going to be a part of the 49ers for a long, long time.”