The Jacksonville Jaguars raised several eyebrows around the NFL when they gave former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk a four-year contract worth $72 million earlier this year. While the amount seems excessive for a player that has never crossed the 1,000-yard mark in a season, Trevor Lawrence seems to be pretty pleased with his addition to the Jags.
Lawrence met with the local media Monday and had nothing but good things to say about Kirk, praising his football and the much-needed speed he will bring to the offense. Here’s what Lawrence said, via John Oehser of the team’s official website.
"From a football IQ sense, I think he’s really quarterback-friendly – the way he sees the field and different coverages unfold, the way he runs his routes. Obviously, his speed is something we really needed and it’s going to help us a lot. You guys saw it today: He can fly and locate a ball… all those things. He’s really talented."
Oehser warns in his Campservations that it’s not a good idea to “overemphasize” things that happen at Organized Team Activities but points out that a 40-yard pass Lawrence threw to Kirk during a 7-on-7 drill really stood out. Oehser is right, it’s too early to get hyped about how good the Jaguars’ offense can be after all the additions they made in the offseason but it’s reassuring to see Kirk starting to build a good rapport with his quarterback.
The Jaguars might’ve found a No. 1 wide receiver in Christian Kirk.
Kirk was the second or third receiving option throughout most of his tenure in Arizona but once he stepped into a featured role in 2021, he went on to thrive. He was particularly productive in the slot, and he should continue to play there in Jacksonville. He ran 77.8 percent of his routes lining up inside and might log a similar number this upcoming season.
Michael Hull of Pro Football Focus points out that No. 1 receivers can operate from inside nowadays (you have to have a subscription to read this one) and cites Cooper Kupp and Doug Baldwin as players that ran a high percentage of his routes from the slot. Hull also notes that Kirk can stretch the field and brings up his 96.7 receiving grade in deep targets as proof.
Kirk’s playing time and role on the Cardinals’ offense increased as the 2021 season progressed and finished the year with 77 receptions for 982 yards with five touchdowns. Firmly entrenched as the number one option in the Jaguars’ passing game, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get more than 1,000 receiving yards and score eight to ten touchdowns.
The Jaguars had no qualms about paying a premium for Kirk’s services in free agency and if he and Lawrence can keep connecting the way they did in OTAs, it will be hard to second-guess their investment.