Jacksonville Jaguars continue to get blasted for WR Christian Kirk’s deal
There’s no such thing as winning free agency in the NFL but acquiring proven players is a way for teams to fill holes and bolster their roster, which is precisely what the Jacksonville Jaguars did earlier this year. They went on to make several splash signings to address key needs, which might have been the best course of action when you take into account that they’ve won a combined 15 games over the last four years.
Having said that, the Jags have earned plenty of criticism for the contracts they handed, in particular the one four-year, $72 million deal they gave to wide receiver Christian Kirk. Jared Dublin of CBS Sports talked about the most questionable moves every AFC squad has made this offseason and the contract Kirk got in free agency was among the ones that made the cut. Dublin believes that the deal isn’t wasn’t on par with the receiver’s past production.
"No, Kirk is not likely to actually get $72 million over four years. Yes, his deal is effectively a two-year, $37 million contract. But you know what? That’s a lot of money for a player who has never had a 1,000-yard season. And that two-year deal assumes he gets released after 2023, in which case he’d still count for $10 million in dead money on Jacksonville’s books in 2024. All of the sudden, that’s the end of Trevor Lawrence’s rookie contract. The value here is just not good at all."
A second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 draft, Kirk is coming off a season in which he posted career highs (77) in receptions and yards (982). Moreover, he reached the end zone five times one year after logging six receiving touchdowns. Over the last season, he’s amassed 236 catches for 2,902 yards with 17 touchdowns. Pretty solid but far from elite production, which is why Dublin’s criticism has some merit on the surface. However, the deal could turn out to be a solid investment for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars are paying Christian Kirk for upside and future production
For starters, a player is worth what a team is willing to pay him. While there are times when athletes will take less money to land in a favorable situation, they want to get the best possible compensation more often than not. In Kirk’s case, what was he supposed to do? Ask the Jaguars to pay him less?
Some general managers and executives around the league weren’t pleased Kirk got such a contract because it raised the prices. However, he doesn’t deserve that kind of criticism, and pinning the blame solely on him isn’t fair. Contracts are always going to up, and even if they go stall, the market will eventually adjust. Moreover, the Jaguars’ brass didn’t sign an obscure receiver but one that has steadily improved throughout his career.
Kirk has been the most productive when he lines up in the slot and that’s where the Jaguars’ coaching staff will have him play. Receivers such as Cooper Kupp or Hunter Renfrow have enjoyed success even though they don’t line up in the boundaries, and while it’s a stretch to say Kirk is at the same level, as either one, the potential is there.
The Jags know what they’re getting in Kirk. That’s why they weren’t afraid to pay him a premium. If he doesn’t become a No. 1 wide receiver and is among the statistical leaders by the end of the 2022 season you can then criticize Jacksonville for overpaying him but right now it’s simply to early to tell how things are going to play out.