According to a report from Sports Illustrated, the 49ers and George Kittle are about to reach an agreement on an extension this week.
Kittle and the Niners have been in conversations about what will ultimately be a record-smashing new contract extension, the largest ever given out to a tight end, and by a huge margin. But the discussions between the fourth-year pro and San Francisco’s general manager, John Lynch, haven’t exactly been overly productive.
At least according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver, who spoke with Kittle’s agent, Jack Bechta, and equated the talks to moving about as fast as an inchworm.
Literally, at least as far as emojis go.
But that was before a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn stated the two parties might be closer than previous reports speculated. Citing a source close to the situation, Cohn reported a six-year deal would be inked on Friday, Aug. 14:
A well-placed source who has been correct in the past just texted me this: The 49ers will announce George Kittle’s contract extension this Friday.
According to the source, it will be a six-year extension worth $94.8 million — or $15.8 million per season. Of that money, the 49ers guaranteed 50 percent of it, or $47.4 million. Kittle also will receive a $25 million signing bonus, and the 49ers will structure his deal in such a way that he will cost them only $10 million of their salary cap space in 2021.
Cohn has received plenty of flak from the 49ers fanbase over the years, some of it deserved and other flak not so much. And he also previously reported the Niners were in on now-Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams, although Lynch later refuted that claim.
Whether or not Lynch’s post-rumor comments were true or part of any given team’s proverbial “smoke and mirrors” campaign is anyone’s guess at this point.
But at least for the “Sign George Kittle” crowd, this latest bit on the Niners rumor mill is good news.
Yet Kittle possibly refuted the rumor shortly after it went live:
Make of that what you will.
Details and Guarantees for George Kittle, 49ers
Cohn also broke down some of the additional pieces of the report, which seem to work in favor of both parties in coming seasons:
Kittle technically would earn less money annually than Arik Armstead and Dee Ford, who earn $17 million and $17.1 million per season, respectively. But Kittle would receive more guaranteed money than any player on the 49ers except for Jimmy Garoppolo, who received $48.7 million fully guaranteed from the 49ers in 2017.
This seems like a fair deal for both the 49ers and Kittle. The 49ers don’t have to pay Kittle $17 million per season, which is wide-receiver money. They get a discount because he’s a tight end. But Kittle gets lots of guaranteed money and security because he has earned it.
One of the areas Silver suggested among the hangups were the guarantees. San Francisco likes to work in incentives for its contracts, and it’s likely Bechta wanted to avoid as much of this as possible. Yet it’s also perfectly reasonable both Bechta and Kittle’s camp understood the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequently probably drop of the 2021 NFL salary cap down to $175 million.
Paying Kittle wide receiver-type money, particularly with a lot of guarantees, would seriously hamper the Niners’ ability to retain, extend or sign top-tier talent amid their current Super Bowl window.
Getting paid is one thing. Getting paid on a perennial contender is another.
Either way, the rumor mill appears to have worked in both parties’ favors right now, and all that’s left for the fanbase is to await the potential news both Kittle and the 49ers have reached a long-term agreement.
Perhaps Friday when it hits the news wire.