Jaguars throw a wrench at WR market with signing of Christian Kirk

Trent Baalke, General Manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Trent Baalke, General Manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars sent shockwaves throughout the NFL on the first day of the legal tampering period. On one hand, they were one of the most active teams, agreeing to terms with several players. However, they also got the spotlight because of the monster contracts they gave to wide receivers Zay Jones and Christian Kirk, which in turn could make it difficult for other clubs to negotiate future contracts at the position.

Matt Lombardo of FanSided recently had the chance to talk to former NFL executive Joe Banner — now with The 33 Team — who not only believes that the Jaguars overpaid Kirk but also thinks that it will have a ripple effect and “complicate other negotiations“.

"“Agents always want to use the comps that they consider most favorable to them, and the teams want to use the comps that are most favorable to them… It complicates the process when you have what I call, an outlier, like Christian Kirk. I think he’s a good player, he’s a really good guy, a hard worker, and a good player, but they paid him as if he were a lot more than that. It certainly is going to complicate the other negotiations.”"

Banner isn’t the only one who isn’t thrilled about Kirk’s deal. Lombardo quotes an AFC scout that is glad the wide receiver got paid but believes that “that’s a lot of money for an undersized slot guy”. Banner says it remains to be seen whether Kirk’s contract is an outlier or the norm but all it takes is one or two more deals like the one he got from the Jags to change the market.

"“If nobody else replicates treating the market value the way the Jaguars did, it will become kind of an asterisk,.. but, all you need is maybe one or two more deals where they, in fact, used Kirk as a comp, and it will change the whole market.”"

The deal the Jaguars gave Christian Kirk isn’t as bad as it seems.

There’s no doubt the Jaguars overpay for Christian Kirk, but coming off a 3-14 season, they had to. Keep in mind that the Philadelphia Eagles were also in pursuit of the former Cardinals wide receive, so if the Jags hadn’t given him a top-market contract, they could have been outbid. Also, they can get out of the contract after two years with just $10 million in dead money, so it’s not as bad as it originally looked.

Again, general manager Trent Baalke paid a premium for a wide receiver that has never had a 1,000-yard season but the Jaguars’ offense will benefit from Kirk’s ability to stretch the field from the slot and that’s the bottom line. It would have been great if the Jaguars wouldn’t have had to spend so much money to lure free agents to Jacksonville but the truth is that if they want to turn things around, they had change the way they’re doing business, which is precisely what they’re doing.

Back in 2019 and 2020, the Jaguars chose to either trade or release several of their core players and went penny-pinching in free agency. Last offseason, they spent a bit more but still shopped for bargains. They buck the trend this offseason and went on to sign six players on the first day of the tampering period. Also, they applied the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson, showing a willingness to keep their own players and sign others in the open market.

As Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has stated several times that there won’t be any shortcuts in the team’s lastest rebuild and it could be a while before they can compete for a playoff spot. However, he and Trent Baalke are operating with a sense of urgency in order to start winning football games as soon as possible and if that means spending big in free agency, so be it.

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