George Kittle entered the league with little fanfare. The San Francisco 49ers took him in the fifth round. Eight other tight ends were picked before him. Yet, three years after entering the NFL, Kittle is the best tight end in the entire league.
And now he’s also the highest-paying tight end in the entire league.
Kittle and the 49ers have agreed to a five-year, $ 75 million contract extension. By NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco, the deal will give Kittle a $ 30 million signing guarantee, including an $ 18 million signing bonus. The global contract includes $ 40 million in total guarantees.
The contract also makes Kittle the tightest-paid segment in terms of annual salary. The Chargers’ Hunter Henry previously made the most per year, with a deductible of $ 10.607 million. Kittle’s $ 15 million a year shatters that record out of the water.
Kittle was entering the final season of his rookie contract. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons and was named First-Team All-Pro in 2019.
In 2018, Kittle set a single-season NFL record for receiving yards on a tight end, finishing with 1,377 receiving yards on a franchise record of 88 catches. He followed it up with 85 receptions for 1,053 yards the following year.
He’s the only tight end in 49ers history to have organized multiple 1,000-yard seasons, and he’s just 26.
Kittle has become Jimmy Garoppolo’s most trusted weapon in San Francisco, and was instrumental in the 49ers’ Super Bowl run last season. Now that he’s locked up for the long haul, he’s aiming to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.