5 Jacksonville Jaguars players who must be extended after the cap spike

• The Jaguars will have a bit of extra cap space to work with in 2024. They should consider using it to extend one (or two) of the following players.

Oct 19, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16)
Oct 19, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Christian Kirk, wide receiver

It's easy to forget it now but the Jaguars (and especially general manager Trent Baalke) got plenty of flak for giving Christian Kirk a top-market deal in 2022. The four-year, $72 million contract he got doesn't look outrageous in retrospect but executives around the league weren't pleased with Baalke throwing a wrench at the receiver market.

Ultimately, Kirk has proved his worth and then some. Since joining the Jags, he's caught 141 passes for 1,895 yards with 11 touchdowns. Even though he sat out five games last year, he still ranked third on the team in both receptions and yards. That's how much of a difference-maker he is, and if that wasn't enough, his yard-per-catch average is a full yard higher over the last two seasons than it was with the Arizona Cardinals.

Kirk still has two years left on his deal but he could sign an early extension to ensure he remains in Jacksonville beyond 2025. His absence late in 2023 was noticeable, and it's not hyperbole to say that the Jags might've made the playoffs if he hadn't gone down with a core injury.

By extending Kirk early, you're showing you value your players and Trevor Lawrence gets to keep one of his most trusted targets for several years. In fact, the only thing potentially stopping the Jags from giving him another deal is that they wouldn't get much cap relief this year. Then again, it would create plenty of room in 2024, when he's scheduled to have a cap hit of $24.3 million.