The Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver corps was in need of an infusion of talent, so it wasn’t shocking to see them sign Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. What was surprising is the kind of contract the Jags gave them both. In particular, Kirk’s deal has gotten plenty of criticism and recently earned a dubious distinction.
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report recently drew up a list of every NFL team’s worst free-agent signings this offseason and he picked Kirk for the Jaguars. He acknowledges right off the bat that Jacksonville needed help at wide receiver and “got one of the better ones available” in Kirk but believes they overpaid for him.
"Kirk signed a four-year deal worth $72 million and up to $84 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That $18 million average annual value put him in the upper echelon of wide receivers, ahead of players such as Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans and even Cooper Kupp. The 25-year-old simply hasn’t performed at that level during his first four years in the league. He’s never even eclipsed 1,000 yards despite having a quality quarterback in Kyler Murray for the last three seasons."
A second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 draft, Kirk has caught 236 passes for 2,902 yards with 17 touchdowns over the last four seasons. There’s no doubt the Jaguars paid a retail rate for his services but context is necessary. After all, the wide receiver market in this year’s free agency wasn’t particularly strong, which in turn made his value go up.
The Jaguars won’t mind paying Christian Kirk if he performs.
You could make the case that the Jaguars should have gotten Allen Robinson, who signed a three-year deal worth $46.5 million with the Los Angeles Rams. However, it’s uncertain if Robinson would have agreed to return to Jacksonville at the same rate. This doesn’t mean the Jags should get a pass for overpaying Kirk. They did and the signing will continue to raise eyebrows until he shows he’s the playmaker he’s getting paid to be.
If Kirk ends up becoming an important cog in the Jaguars’ offense, one that can stretch the field and create opportunities for his teammates, he will be worth the money he got but if he doesn’t, general manager Trent Baalke will deserve plenty of criticism. Keep in mind that the team’s brass isn’t paying Kirk for what he did in the past but rather for what he could do in Jacksonville, so it may be a bit too premature to give a final grade to his deal.
If you don’t factor in the amount of money the Jaguars forked out to sign Kirk, this is a solid addition to an offense that needed playmakers. Although the cost doesn’t make it a particularly good deal at this time, he will have the chance he’s worth the investment.