He hasn’t played a down in the NFL, but Kyle Pitts rookie contract makes him the tight end with the most guaranteed money in the NFL.
NFL contracts do not have to be guaranteed. In essence they can typically be seen as a series of one year deals with club options. Meaning, the club will pick up the second year of a 5-year deal as long as it is beneficial to the club. But the player only gets to keep his signing bonus, i.e. the guaranteed money.
A recent trend has seen the contracts of players, especially rookies, getting much more guaranteed money in their deals. NBA and MLB contracts are fully guaranteed, and it’s incredibly rare to see a player from those sports hold out on a contract. In those cases, a player truly is under contract.
Historically in the NFL though, even if a player has a “4-year” deal, each year is voidable by the club franchise, hence the reason I call them a one year deal with multiple club options.
The most the players of the most dangerous sport deserve to have their contracts guaranteed, and Kyle Pitts’ rookie deal is fully guaranteed as it should be.
The graphic doesn’t mean Kyle Pitts is the highest paid tight end. For example, George Kittle signed a 5-year extension starting last season that included $23.6M in guaranteed money. If he sees the end of that deal, it will be worth $75M total compared to Pitts’ $32.9.
Kittle will play with a base salary of $1.2M in 2021 with an escalation to $11.5M in 2022. He’ll be 32 in the final year of his contract due to earn $14.4M, so it’s likely he won’t see the end of that deal.
That Kyle Pitts is getting the most guaranteed money of any tight end in the NFL doesn’t make him the highest paid NFL tight end, but the guaranteed contracts, not just signing bonus, is a positive trend for player well-being.