The NFL’s Highest Paid Tight Ends: Comparing contracts for Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle
The NFL’s top tight ends are finally getting the lucrative contracts they deserve to play one of the most demanding positions in elite football. Defining the “highest paid” players in the league in each position is complicated depending on how much weight you put on average annual salary, guaranteed money, and total value.
Travis Kelce of the Chiefs and George Kittle of the 49ers got their new expensive deals from their teams last summer for their great reception and blocking efforts. That year, just before the season started, Mark Andrews was imprisoned for a long time by the Ravens to raise the bar even further.
Here’s a breakdown of how much each of these tight ends will make, and how long they’ve been signed on to the position relative to their closest counterparts:
MORE: The NFL’s Highest Paid Players in 2021
Travis Kelce’s contract details
- Median Annual Salary: $ 14,312,500
- Guaranteed Money: $ 22.75 million
- Total Value: 4 years, $ 57,250 million (signed 2020-2025)
Kelce has a team-friendly deal for the next two years, leading up to his season at age 33, with cap hits of $ 7.65 million in 2021 and $ 8.9 million in 2022. As part of his deal, Kelce has $ 1 million per season in squad and training bonuses plus an annual restructuring bonus of $ 1.4 million. With his game still on hold at 31, the Chiefs are smart about making sure he’s connected to Patrick Mahomes through their current Super Bowl window. Should Kelce stay healthy and want to play through his mid-30s, Kansas City will be working on a new deal. Kelce is only five months younger than Rob Gronkowski.
Contract details from Mark Andrews
- Median Annual Salary: $ 14 million
- Guaranteed Money: $ 37,583 million
- Total Value: 4 years, $ 56 million (signed 2021-2025)
Andrews turned 26 on September 6th and celebrated his birthday by signing his contract that day. The Ravens had to keep him as Lamar Jackson’s most trusted man and take care of him before they deal with the quarterback’s contract. Andrews works like a wide receiver hybrid and was a red zone. He didn’t quite hit Kelce’s total worth or Kittle’s guaranteed money, but on each metric Andrews maximized his market potential.
The cap hit for Andrews is only $ 3.161 million in 2021, which climbs to $ 9.4 million in the next season and $ 13.4 million in 2023.
George Kittle’s contract details
- Average Annual Salary: $ 15 million
- Guaranteed money: $ 40 million
- Total Value: 5 years, $ 75 million (signed 2020-2025)
Kittle is the king on the tight end no matter how you look at the contracts. As great as Kelce is, Kittle is worth more than a superior run blocker to the 49ers and is quite younger, not turning 28 until October 9th. The only question about ROI is that Kittle will stay healthy; Kelce has a huge advantage in the availability department. Coupled with what Andrews has accomplished this year, Kittle is setting the pace for the next wave of young veterans on the position, led by his former Iowa product, TJ Hockenson
The NFL’s Highest Paid Tight Ends
|rank||player||Average annual value|
|1||George Kittle, 49er||$ 15 million|
|2||Travis Kelce, chiefs||$ 14.312 million|
|3||Mark Andrews, Ravens||$ 14 million|
|T-4||Jonnu Smith, patriot||$ 12.5 million|
|T-4||Hunter Henry, patriot||$ 12.5 million|
|6th||Austin Hooper, Browns||$ 10.5 million|
|T-6||Zach Ertz, Eagles||$ 8.5 million|
|8th||Kyle Pitts, hawks||$ 8.227 million|
|9||Logan Thomas, Washington||$ 8.021 million|
|T-10||Jimmy Graham, bears||$ 8 million|
|T-10||Rob Gronkowski, privateer||$ 8 million|
The top three are in good places, but Darren Waller’s absence from this list also means the Raiders got a steal when they decided to lock him up for $ 29.8 million two years ago. You can bet that this list could also motivate us to renegotiate soon.
Smith and Henry were surprising double free agents of the Patriots trying to restore strength with 12 employees. At the right time, you signed up to 2021 with similar contracts of varying lengths. Likewise, Hooper was the big off-season signer before landing here.
Pitts makes the list on his rookie contract. On his return from retirement, Gronkowski continues to produce at a discount rate.
NFL Tight End Salaries: Guaranteed Money
|1||George Kittle, 49er||$ 40 million|
|2||Mark Andrews, Ravens||$ 37.583 million|
|3||Kyle Pitts, hawks||$ 32.910 million|
|4th||Jonnu Smith, patriot||$ 31.25 million|
|5||Hunter Henry, patriot||$ 25 million|
|6th||Austin Hooper, Browns||$ 23 million|
|7th||Travis Kelce, chiefs||$ 22.75 million|
|8th||Zach Ertz, Eagles||$ 21 million|
|9||TJ Hockenson, Lions||$ 19.821 million|
|10||Cameron Brate, privateer||$ 18 million|
Kitle and Andrews confirm the respective strengths of their deals here. Pitts’ number is in the typical four-year rookie contract structure.
Smith, Henry and Hooper broke the bank well here too. Hockenson is positioned for a big raise. Brate is the surprise as the Bucs carry a lot of tight final salaries between him, Gronkowski and OJ Howard.
NFL Tight End Salaries: Overall Value Rankings
|rank||player||Total order value|
|1||George Kittle, 49er||$ 75 million|
|2||Travis Kelce, chiefs||$ 57.25 million|
|3||Mark Andrews, Ravens||$ 56 million|
|4th||Jonnu Smith, patriot||$ 50 million|
|5||Zach Ertz, Eagles||$ 42.5 million|
|6th||Austin Hooper, Browns||$ 42 million|
|7th||Cameron Brate, privateer||$ 40.8 million|
|8th||Hunter Henry, patriot||$ 37.5 million|
|9||Kyle Pitts, hawks||$ 32.91 million|
|10||Darren Waller, Raiders||$ 29.8 million|
Of his team, Kittle has invested the most in him. There was some reflection on what Kelce had gotten from Andrews’ deal. Ertz and Hooper, the two Stanford products, have seen their values ââquickly become out of date. Pitts is lucky enough to have a big deal right away. Here, too, Waller is likely to want a new contract soon.