The Jacksonville Jaguars knew they needed to upgrade their wide receiver corps this offseason and they weren’t afraid to spend big to do so, signing Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in free agency. The Jags had to get Trevor Lawrence more weapons, so it’s hard to blame them for paying a premium to make sure he did. However, Kirk’s contract has gotten favorable reviews around the league and he recently pushed back.
So what does Kirk have to say about the criticism surrounding his contract? He appeared on The Herd and told host Colin Cowherd that he’s seen people blaming him for the ‘chaos of the receiver market” but believes it was bound to happen.
"Guys like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, they were going to get those deals regardless, especially where the cap is, how much money the league’s bringing in every year. And you just see the way different positions are getting paid. Guys are just gonna start getting paid more and our position has been at the forefront. Like I said, it’s been attracting a lot of attention, but I believe the receiver position has if not the most, one of the most impactful outcomes and positions on the field."
In case you missed it, The Jeff Howe of The Athletic recently posted an article in which coaches around the league blame Kirk for receiver salaries skyrocketing this offseason. The column is behind a paywall but Howe notes that Kirk isn’t at fault for salaries going up and he simply maximized his value. Here’s the whole sitdown with Cowherd in case you want to give it a look:
It’s silly to blame the Jaguars or Christian Kirk for the receiver market.
Look, the Jags overpaid Kirk. There’s no question about it but if he lives up to expectations, the signing will retroactively be seen in a more favorable light. Moreover, a player is paid whatever a team believes he’s worth. General manager Trent Baalke wasn’t under threat when giving the wide receiver his four-year, $72 million contract with a max value of $80 million.
Blaming Kirk for salaries surging seems like an easy way out for teams that aren’t able to lock their own players. Teams that are committed to keeping their own playmakers will find a way to do it. Whether it’s paying him market value or structuring his contract in a way that helps them make other moves, clubs won’t let their difference-makers walk away. Of course, the Las Vegas Raiders and the Miami Dolphins would have liked to pay less for Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill respectively but both teams know that’s the cost of doing business.
Kirk did what most of us would have done in the same situation. He took advantage of the situation and got paid as much as he could. What was he supposed to do? Tell the Jaguars to give him $2 million less per year? It’s true that some players leave money on the table but most of the time it’s because they’re joining a contender and they want to win. In his case, Kirk wanted to maximize his value.
Kirks’ contract has been panned but he will have the chance to prove the Jaguars right when he steps on the field in the 2022 regular season.