49ers: Analyzing George Kittle’s value following contract extension

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, 49ers
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

What’s the verdict for 49ers TE George Kittle?

So, we’ve established George Kittle’s receiving numbers are on par, if not better than, some of the top receivers in the NFL and his blocking is better than starting NFL linemen. We’ve also seen how he compares to players at his own position. So what does it all mean?

Well, assuming the cap is at $175 million next year and going off straight AAV (which is not an ideal calculation but does enough to illustrate the key point) of $15 million, Kittle’s cap percentage would be 8 percent of what the 49ers are pegged to spend in 2021.

Rob Gronkowski, the tight end who best describes Kittle’s impact, had an AAV of $9 million which in 2018 (the last year he played with the Patriots) would relate to a cap percentage of a little more than five percent. Given the rising nature of contracts and the sudden drop of the cap due to COVID-19, this three-percent jump makes sense. It also shows Kittle is being fairly compensated relative to tight ends. The Cleveland Browns’ Austin Hooper, the last player before the Kittle-Kelce extensions to set the tight end market, received $10.5 million in AAV, which when matched against the current salary cap, also has a cap percentage hit of roughly five percent, and Hooper is not on the same level as Gronkowski.

However, Julio Jones, who agreed to a contract extension that will take effect this year, makes $22 million, which with a salary cap of $198.2 million, means his cap percentage is 11 percent, three percent more than Kittle. Michael Thomas, whose contract extension will fully take place in 2021, the same year as Kittle, will make $18 million for a cap percentage of 10 percent.

Kittle’s contract places him in his own place where he’ll make more than any tight end ever before but less than the top receivers in the league. Based on the limit a positional designation like a tight end has, this deal seems to be perfect. But as we’ve seen, Kittle produces like top receivers and offensive linemen, and he’ll be making less than both of them.

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So despite breaking the bank for his position, yes, George Kittle will be had at a discount.