With the financial situation between the NFL and NFLPA mostly resolved heading into a 2020 season, one that could see revenues plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic, teams are now more apt to get long-term deals done with veteran players after mostly pausing negotiations during the spring and summer.
We saw Joey Bosa get a whopping deal with the Los Angeles Chargers just last night.
Perhaps now the San Francisco 49ers will back up the Brink's truck for George Kittle.
Speaking on KNBR on Tuesday, general manager John Lynch sounded positive about negotiations with the All-World tight end, saying he didn't "see any reason why we wouldn't be able" to get a deal done.
Lynch cited next year's cap having a floor of $175 million, with any other revenue shortfalls being smoothed over the following three years, as a reason for optimism.
"Now we have that information," Lynch said, via The Athletic. "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."
Back in May, sides weren't close to a deal. Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, insisted at the time that the subdued tight end market wouldn't hinder his client. Their stalemate continues today, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the two sides are "not particularly close on anything."
The argument that Kittle deserves to be paid more in line with the receiver market than with his fellow tight ends is not unlike the case Jimmy Graham once made with the New Orleans Saints.
"I knew that it might be tricky because of, you know, the position that he plays and things of that nature -- finding the right number," Lynch said.
Austin Hooper signed the largest long-term deal for a tight end this offseason, earning $10.5 million over the four-year pact. That per-year average would place him 22nd among receivers. With the discrepancy over positional value not meeting overall value, you can understand how finding a number that works for both Kittle and the Niners could be trickier than most negotiations.
With Kittle on the final year of his contract, with a base salary of $2.13 million, the Niners also have the ability to wield the franchise tag next year to keep the tight end in San Francisco.
Even without a deal soon, Lynch isn't worried about the situation affecting Kittle's preparation for the season.
"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."