San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch said he expects the team and All-Pro George Kittle to reach agreement on a contract that likely will make Kittle the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.
Kittle, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is entering his fourth season. He’ll earn $2.1 million in 2020 on the final year of his rookie contract.
Lynch, in an interview with KNBR radio on Tuesday, said he didn’t “see any reason why we wouldn’t be able” to come to terms with Kittle.
Negotiations with Kittle’s representatives has been made somewhat easier, Lynch said, because he now knows next season’s salary cap won’t be less than $175 million, despite huge losses the NFL anticipates because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now we have that information,” Lynch said of the upcoming cap. “So we’ve traded ideas and things. And we’re really hopeful. We’re going to work extremely hard. George is such a great fit for what we do. He’s a tremendous player. [I’m] sitting here looking at the vision statement for what we want in a player. And George checks every box.”
The 49ers’ 2021 salaries, including dead cap space, currently add up to about $170 million, according to Spotrac. Several big-ticket veterans will become free agents after the 2020 season, and others could be cut to free cap space.
Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry will earn $10.6 million this season playing on the franchise tag. Cleveland signed free agent tight end Austin Hooper to a four-year, $42 million deal in March.
Kittle, 26, has taken part in virtual workouts this offseason.
“George is a pro,” Lynch said. “And he’s planning on coming [to training camp]. And we’re going to continue to work. That’s our job to get that done. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t.”
Kittle, an Iowa product, has caught 216 passes for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns in 45 games over his first three seasons.