How George Kittle's Record Contract Compares to Other Top NFL Players

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2020

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)
Josie Lepe/Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers star George Kittle reset the tight end market when he agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Michael Silver.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco provided more specifics:

At $15 million, Kittle's average salary smashes the previous high-water mark for tight ends. Hunter Henry was in the top spot after he signed his $10.6 million franchise tender with the Los Angeles Chargers, while Austin Hooper's contract with the Cleveland Browns will net him $10.5 million annually, per Spotrac.


Highest-Paid Tight Ends

  • 1. George Kittle ($15,000,000)
  • 2. Hunter Henry ($10,607,000)
  • 3. Austin Hooper ($10,500,000)
  • 4. Travis Kelce ($9,368,400)
  • T5. Rob Gronkowski ($9,000,000)
  • T5. Kyle Rudolph ($9,000,000)

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero noted Kittle might not have the top salary for long, though:

Kittle was bound to get a hefty pay raise after he posted 216 receptions for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns through his first three seasons. He was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and 2019 and earned his first All-Pro nod last year.

His contract reflects how tight ends still have some way to go to be compensated like elite wide receivers. Julio Jones ($22 million) leads all wideouts in average salary, and Kittle's number would only be good enough for 12th behind Cleveland Browns star Jarvis Landry ($15.1 million).


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Highest-Paid Wide Receivers

  • 1. Julio Jones ($22,000,000)
  • 2. Amari Cooper ($20,000,000)
  • 3. Michael Thomas ($19,250,000)
  • 4. A.J. Green ($18,171,000)
  • T5. Tyreek Hill ($18,000,000)
  • T5. Odell Beckham Jr. ($18,000,000)
  • 7. Mike Evans ($16,500,000)
  • T8. DeAndre Hopkins ($16,200,000)
  • T8. Brandin Cooks ($16,200,000)
  • 10. Adam Thielen ($16,050,000)
  • 11. Jarvis Landry ($15,100,000)
  • *George Kittle ($15,000,000)

Here's where Kittle sits relative to the highest earners at each position.


Highest Average Salary

  • QB: Patrick Mahomes ($45,000,000)
  • RB: Christian McCaffrey ($16,015,875)
  • WR: Julio Jones ($22,000,000)
  • TE: George Kittle ($15,000,000)
  • OT: Laremy Tunsil ($22,000,000)
  • OG: Brandon Scherff ($15,030,000)
  • C: Rodney Hudson ($11,250,000)
  • DE: Joey Bosa ($27,000,000)
  • DT: Aaron Donald ($22,500,000)
  • OLB: Khalil Mack ($23,500,000)
  • ILB: Bobby Wagner ($18,000,000)
  • CB: Darius Slay $16,683,333)
  • S: Eddie Jackson ($14,600,000)

Both Kelce and Ertz are signed through 2021, so massive extensions may not be coming this offseason.

Ertz might struggle to eclipse Kittle's record-breaking deal since he's three years older at 29 and has had just one 1,000-yard receiving season.

Kelce, on the other hand, should have a good chance. Although he's four years older than Kittle, his 507 receptions are the third-most ever for a tight end over his first seven seasons, per Pro Football Reference. He's also first in receiving yards (6,465) despite the fact that he played in only one game as a rookie.