Jacksonville Jaguars efforts looking at Christian Kirk have paid off

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

Free agency gives NFL teams the chance to acquire proven veterans to fill roster holes. The Jacksonville Jaguars made use of their surplus of cap space earlier this year and made several important additions.

Among the players the Jags signed, wide receiver Christian Kirk arguably stands out the most, and head coach Doug Pederson told the local media Friday what made him a priority signing in free agency.

“Obviously, we did a lot of research when he was coming out of college”, Pederson said. “First, it starts there. You do a lot of film study. His play in Arizona and the things he had done there. One of the biggest things I was looking for, just me personally it’s just high-character guys, guys that were going to fit in and help change the culture here in Jacksonville. He was one of those guys”.

“To all the offensive coaches, I can probably go and speak for all of them, he was our number one target that we wanted to get in free agency, and we were able to get him. And when you get him here and see exactly who he is and what he’s about and how he works and how he spends time doing little things and extra things and how he studies the game. It’s confirmation our efforts looking at him have paid off, in that regard”, Pederson said.

A second-round pick in the 2018 draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Kirk signed a four-year deal worth $72 million in free agency with the Jaguars. The team’s brass earned plenty of scorn from other teams, talking heads and fans for giving a premium contract to a player that hadn’t had a 1,000-yard season on his resume. However, Kirk has been everything Jacksonville bargained for and has hauled in 21 receptions for 338 yards with three touchdowns this season.

The Jaguars knew what they were getting in free agency

While the draft gives NFL clubs the chance to find foundational players, free agency is a fast-lane way to fortify a roster. Players’ readiness is always variable coming out of college and free agency removes plenty of guesswork since front offices know how a player has fared in the pros. Sure, free agency doesn’t have a 100 percent success rate but getting the right players can help a team quickly turn things around.

When the Jags signed Kirk, they weren’t paying him for his past production. Instead, they projected how he would fit in their offense and what kind of production he would get. Looking back, they paid a fair price for his services, especially when you take into account that several other receivers have gone on to earn far richer deals than Kirk’s over the last few months.

Wide receiver was arguably Jacksonville’s biggest need this offseason but instead of drafting a prospect, the team’s brass opted to sign Kirk and Zay Jones. So far, the decision has paid off and it’s hard to argue with the results.

Kirk was one of the players the Jags signed in the offseason that have gone on to have an immediate impact. If they end up qualifying for the postseason, their free-agent class will be a big reason why.

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