Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is just as productive as many of the elite wide receivers in the NFL, yet he's not paid like it, and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle doesn't understand why.
Speaking with Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Kittle said the fact that Kelce doesn't get paid like a wide receiver "just boggles my mind":
"I mean, Travis Kelce, six seasons in a row, 1,000 yards. I'm pretty sure he has the most receiving yards over any wide receiver, skill position in the last six years. He gets paid half of what a wide receiver makes, which just boggles my mind. I mean, to me, Travis Kelce, he's been doing it for so long and at such a high level. And he doesn't have an off game. I think he has one bad game a year, and it's just because he's getting triple-teamed."
Kittle added: "Every NFL team ... that's won a Super Bowl or been to the Super Bowl for like the last five years has had an All-Pro tight end a part of the team. I feel a tight end's not just like a cog in the wheel; it's an important position that can really add to your offense or diminish it."
Kelce, a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, has been one of the Chiefs' top targets since 2014 and has been their leader in receiving yards four times.
As Kittle noted, the 32-year-old has also recorded six straight seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards and figures to be even more of an offensive threat in 2022 following Tyreek Hill's trade to the Miami Dolphins.
Kelce signed a four-year, $57 million extension in August 2020. For comparison, Hill just signed a four-year, $120 million deal with the Dolphins.
According to Over The Cap, Kittle is the highest-paid tight end at $15 million per year. Like Kelce, he should also probably be paid more similarly to an elite wide receiver.
Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler, has two seasons of more than 1,000 receiving yards and has led San Francisco in receiving yards twice. During the 2021 campaign, he caught 71 passes for 910 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games.
But like Kelce, Kittle will likely see one of his wide receiver teammates get a massive extension. Deebo Samuel, who had a breakout 2021 campaign with 1,405 receiving yards, 365 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns, is in line to become one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the league.
That said, the tight end market could change in the future based on the production of players such as Kelce, Kittle, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Kyle Pitts and others.