Former Hawkeye George Kittle agrees to record-breaking contract extension

The San Francisco 49ers made Kittle the NFL's highest-paid tight end with a five-year, $75 million extension.


The Daily Iowan

Iowa tight end George Kittle holds up the ball after scoring a touchdown during the Iowa-Nebraska game at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Kittle scored the first touchdown of the game.The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 28-20, to finish off a perfect regular season.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

George Kittle has been considered underpaid in recent seasons since becoming one of the NFL’s best playmakers. He isn’t underpaid anymore.

The former Iowa tight end has agreed to a five-year, $75 million contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers, making him the highest-paid player at the position in NFL history. According to his agent Jack Bechta, Kittle’s deal includes an $18 million signing bonus, $30 million guaranteed at signing, and $40 million guaranteed in case of injury.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network was the first to report the agreement.

Kittle’s deal surpasses the four-year, $42 million contract tight end Austin Hooper signed with the Cleveland Browns earlier this offseason, which was previously the largest deal for a player at the position. Kittle will make $12 million more in guaranteed money than Hooper as part of this deal.

Kittle was entering the final season of his rookie contract. In 2019, he $645,000 in base salary.

After the 49ers selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Kittle quickly flashed his potential. As a rookie, Kittle was the team’s starting tight end and finished the season with 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Then, he broke out.

In 2018, Kittle broke the NFL’s single-season receiving yards record for a tight end, finishing with 1,377 yards on 88 receptions. He also hauled in five touchdowns and was named to his first Pro Bowl.

This past season, Kittle topped the 1,000-yard mark a second time, recording 85 catches for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. With Kittle as the premier playmaker on offense, the 49ers went 13-3 in the 2019 regular season and appeared in Super Bowl LIV.

Kittle was named to another Pro Bowl following the regular season and earned his first career All-Pro nod.

In July, Kittle was named the seventh-best player in the league according to the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2020 list, which is voted on by current players.

Along with being dangerous whenever he has the ball in his hands, Kittle’s blocking ability has been highlighted as a strength. Some players at the position are premier pass-catchers, but can’t be asked to carry much weight in the running game. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan utilizes Kittle as one of the key blockers in his schemes.

At Iowa, Kittle caught 48 passes for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns from 2013-16.

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