How DeForest Buckner, George Kittle, Arik Armstead impact 49ers' trade view


How DeForest Buckner, George Kittle, Arik Armstead impact 49ers' trade view

The 49ers have known for a while that defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and tight end George Kittle were in line for big-money contract extensions.

And, now, it has become obvious it will take a huge investment to retain defensive lineman Arik Armstead beyond this season.

“What Arik needs to do is keep on playing at that level and he’s going to make his life really easy because a lot of people are going to coveting him, along with us,” general manager John Lynch said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

When the 49ers consider the pros and cons of pursuing a trade to add a veteran player, such as Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they must consider the long-term effect of parting ways with a draft pick or two as well as the salary cap implications for adding another big-money contract.

“We talk about not just having success but having sustained success,” Lynch said. “We want to build this thing. Every move we’ve made is with the mindset of being successful now, but we also want this to be sustainable.

“You have to look at long-term planning, which we’re always doing in terms of guys we’re very happy with and their contracts are coming up and we have an opportunity to re-sign and keep them around for a long time. So there’s a ton of planning that goes into it.”

For instance, if the 49ers were to entertain a trade for Ramsey or Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams, the club would consider more than how the player would fit in with the current roster. The 49ers already have gauged the long-term impact of losing the draft selections, as well as signing an established veteran to a long-term extension that would make him one of the team’s highest-paid players.

The 49ers currently are $26.8 million under the NFL’s salary cap, according to figures from the NFL Players Association. Unused cap room rolls over from one year to the next.

Buckner is scheduled to earn more than $14 million in 2020 on the fifth-year option – the final year of his contract. The 49ers are eligible to negotiate a contract extension with Kittle after this season, which is the third year of his original four-year contract.

“Those guys are pretty obvious, in terms of what they bring on the field, in terms of who they are as people,” Lynch said. “They check all the boxes. Those are guys who are extremely important to us.”

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Armstead is moving himself into that category, too.

Armstead is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, as he plays on the fifth-year option at more than $9 million. Armstead has gotten off to his best start with two sacks in the team’s first three games.

“What I love about Arik, he’s playing like the guy he was capable of being and playing with a tremendous amount of vigor, intensity, power,” Lynch said.

”I think he really meshes well with what (first-year 49ers defensive line coach) Kris Kocurek has brought in terms of mentality and how we want to play. And it’s all falling into place with him.”

49ers' George Kittle deserves 'a special contract,' agent believes

49ers' George Kittle deserves 'a special contract,' agent believes

After the best three-season opening for a tight end in NFL history, George Kittle is eligible to receive a new contract from the 49ers before the 2020 season.

It would appear both sides should prioritize a fair contract before the club is allowed to get on the field again. The biggest issue is figuring out what is fair pay for someone who does it all -- but does it at a position that ranks behind only running backs on the NFL pay scale.

“Right now, there is not a comp for George,” Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “He’s unique. He’s a unicorn. He’s one of a kind.”

Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick from Iowa in 2017, has more receiving yards than any tight end through three seasons in NFL history. He is the only tight end in 49ers history with a 1,000-yard season – and he has done it in back-to-back years. He set the league record for tight ends in 2018 with 1,377 yards receiving.

He was named first-team All-Pro in 2019 after catching 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games.

Moreover, Kittle is a dominant blocker in the run game.

“George is a very special player. He needs a special contract,” Bechta said. “And those things take time for both sides. It’s a nice problem for everybody to have.

“At the end of the day, I trust the Niners will do the right thing and take good care of George, as they should. But I trust the process. I won’t comment where we’re at, or numbers or anything like that. But hopefully it gets done.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Tight ends are lagging behind most of the other positions in the NFL pay structure, Bechta points out.

Hunter Henry is scheduled to be the highest paid tight end in the league this season at $10.6 million after the Los Angeles Chargers designated him as their franchise player. Austin Hooper became the league’s top-paid tight end on a multi-year contract when the Cleveland Browns signed him as a free agent to a four-year deal that averages $10.5 million annually.

[RELATEDLynch expects Kittle contract extension 'in due time']

Meanwhile, Kittle is scheduled to make $2.133 million this season through the league’s proven performance escalator. Clearly, he is underpaid.

The 49ers have him under contract for the upcoming season. Kittle is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension before then, they could designate him as their franchise player to retain him on a one-year deal. Both sides do not want it to come to that.

“There are smart people at the Niners,” Bechta said. “They’ll figure it out. They love George, and George loves them. And hopefully it’ll all work out.”

Stephen Jackson insists Colin Kaepernick is owed apology by 'fake' NFL

Stephen Jackson insists Colin Kaepernick is owed apology by 'fake' NFL

On Saturday, five days after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota and with protests raging across the country, the NFL released a statement.

The words from the NFL didn't go over well.

In Twitter-speak, the tweet is getting ratio'd. More than 24,000 replies to just over 4,000 retweets.

NFL players Kenny Stills, Eric Reid, and filmaker Ava DuVernay had strong reactions to the NFL's tweet.

Former Warriors forward Stephen Jackson, who considered Floyd a brother and called him "Twin," did not appreciate the NFL's statement either.

"That's so fake, man," Jackson told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears on Monday. "It's so fake, it's so fake, it's so fake."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Jackson believes the league should have apologized to former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to raise awareness for social injustices.

"Like, why even do it?" Jackson said. "We know it's not real. We know it's not real. You're making yourself look bad. That's one of those situations where they shouldn't even say nothing, bro. They shouldn't even say nothing. ... If anything, they need to apologize to Kaepernick. If they're gonna respond on this type of stuff, start it off with an apology to Kaepernick. Then maybe we'll accept it."

Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016. In a column posted by CNN over the weekend, former NFL executive Joe Lockhart said one team official told him they feared losing 20 percent of their season-ticket holders if they signed Kaepernick.

Kaepernick worked out for teams last year, but remains a free agent.

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