Valentine's Day is supposed to be a day of happiness, a day of love, a day full of good news. That had to be what George Kittle's agent, Jack Bechta, expected when 49ers executive vice president of football operations Paraag Marathe texted him on Feb. 14.
But when Bechta finally checked his email the next day, he couldn't believe his eyes. The longer the email, the worse the news, he told NFL Media's Mike Silver. And this was a long email. The 49ers' first offer to Bechta before Kittle signed his record-setting five-year, $75 million contract extension on Friday was insulting to the agent. It would have made Kittle the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, but by a very small margin.
Bechta was having none of that, and quickly gave the offer a nickname that fits a cringy Netflix show.
"After I took a good look at the offer," Bechta said to Silver, "I started calling it 'The Valentine's Day Massacre.' "
Bechta told Silver he, Marathe and general manager John Lynch had an informal agreement to begin talking negotiations as soon as the 2019 regular season ended. But with the 49ers rolling to an 8-0 start, Lynch asked the agent for more time as everything around Santa Clara was going about smooth as could be.
Kittle's agent obliged but made his feelings clear.
"Sure," Bechta told Silver he said to Lynch. "But as soon as the season's over, we've gotta get on to this."
And then came the "Valentine's Day Massacre." Bechta initially sent a frustrated text to Lynch and Marathe, and followed that with a call to Marathe on Monday morning.
"I'm not even entertaining [the offer]," Bechta told Silver he said to Marathe. "It's a non-starter. I'm not even showing this to George, to help protect you guys. Get back to me when you get serious."
In the end, the 49ers proved just how serious they are. Kittle now is being paid as the top tight end in the league, and his extension places him just outside of the top 10 most expensive contracts for receivers. Kittle is a football unicorn and rightfully deserved to get paid as one.
Kittle and Bechta got what they wanted, and wild nickname from a frustrated agent at the time only adds to the story.