George Kittle’s new deal proves that an elite tight end is the NFL’s best bargain.
The numbers are in. George Kittle is going to be a rich man with a new reported contract worth up to $75 million over the next five years.
That also makes him a tremendous bargain.
The tight end position has been woefully underpaid for years now, falling behind their fellow pass catchers at wide receiver at a pace that seems unfair. Kittle and other elite tight ends like Travis Kelce offer up similar receiving stats to superstar wide receivers yet they are disproportionally paid far less than their peers.
If any deal was ever going to bridge the gap, it was going to be this one. Kittle is the NFL’s second-best tight end (c’mon, you’re reading a Chiefs site) and certainly the best young tight end. He’s an all-world blocker who is also a solid receiver with no pronounced weakness in his game. He’s also still on his rookie contract and will be a superstar for the Niners for the next five or even 10 years.
The new contract for George Kittle, one of the two best tight ends in the NFL by a country mile, would not eclipse the top 10 wide receivers in the NFL in 2020. Jarvis Landry is making more per year now than George Kittle (and that’s a dated deal, by the way, on Landry’s part). Adam Thielen and Brandin Cooks are averaging a million more. It’s still not fair.
At the very least, the pay is less disproportional than it was before. This offseason, Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper set new high marks for tight ends on the open market in free agency and neither player could even reach the $11 million mark annually. Granted, both players come with concerns. However, that meant the highest-paid tight end was, for months, behind the top 20 wide receivers. Not anymore.
This deal does, however, make Travis Kelce’s contract look even more like a bargain. Kelce, who continues to set new records each passing year with his production, is averaging less than $10 million per year on his current deal that runs through 2021. Kelce’s average of $9.368 million would make him No. 27 overall among wide receivers, just after the likes of, say, Golden Tate of the New York Giants and Jamison Crowder of the New York Jets.
While Kittle was able to earn a fairly substantial leap at the tight end position, it still pales in comparison to the money enjoyed by the game’s best wide receivers. That’s a shame because an impact tight end is just as valuable as an impact wideout. For now, a team who is able to secure an elite tight end—and they are hard to find—enjoys the NFL’s biggest bargain.