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Christian Kirk
NFL

Can Christian Kirk’s Jaguars Contract Be Justified?

  • Justin Melo
  • March 14, 2022
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According to multiple reports, the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth up to a reported $84 million (!) with free-agent wide receiver Christian Kirk. Full terms of the deal have yet to be released, but the former Arizona Cardinal has landed an extremely sizable payday in Jacksonville, one that makes him one of the highest-paid receivers in the league annually.

A vertical slot receiver that can stretch the field in a moment’s notice, Kirk lands in a new-look Jaguars offense that will be spearheaded by the arrival of ex-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Jacksonville’s offense desperately required the services of a receiver that can threaten opposing secondaries deep down the field, and Kirk will fill that role nicely for an improving franchise.

Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke entered the offseason needing to upgrade his receiver corps, and swiftly identified Kirk as his main target as the two sides reached a shockingly large deal just two hours into the legal tampering window. The impending departure of the oft-injured D.J. Chark left Jacksonville with a need for speed, and Kirk has plenty to spare.

Financial terms of the deal appear richer than almost everyone thought Kirk would land on the open market, but there’s no denying Kirk should immediately help upgrade a group of pass-catchers that lacked pop and excitement in 2021. Marvin Jones performed rather adequately as Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiver (mostly out of sheer necessity) throughout the campaign, but Jones typically performs at his best when working underneath the coverage. Jones averaged 11.4 yards per reception and is more of a possession receiver than he is a big-play threat, and Kirk’s vertical ability will serve as a nice complement going forward.

Kirk experienced a career-topping season in 2021 while producing personal-best numbers in receptions (77) and receiving yards (982) while scoring five touchdowns on a high-flying Arizona Cardinals team that featured Kyler Murray at quarterback and a plethora of weapons both in the backfield and at receiver. Kirk has rarely had to serve as the go-to target throughout his career, barring injury to Arizona’s top receivers, but he’ll likely be asked to become that player in Jacksonville. It’s yet to be seen how he’ll handle such a sizable workload while receiving consistent attention from opposing defenses, but Jacksonville is betting big and dangerous on his ability to manage such a role.

This offseason was all about further investing in the continued development and success of franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Baalke and former head coach Urban Meyer failed to adequately surround Lawrence with the desired weapons in Year 1, and Baalke and Pederson seemingly refuse to repeat those errors this offseason. The Jaguars also signed elite offensive linemen Brandon Scherff to a long-term deal on Monday in another move that signals their aggressive offensive intentions.

Kirk will be labeled as vehemently “overpaid” as the masses continue to react to the staggering financial teams of the deal, but he’ll almost certainly help Lawrence take the much-needed and desired step forward as a sophomore signal-caller.