The Jaguars shocked the NFL world with a four-year, $72 million deal Christian Kirkbut the former Cardinals wide receiver ticked many boxes the team was looking for this offseason.
Kirk’s speed profile, stamina and age of 25 – an age the Jaguars believed would allow him to grow and develop with him Trevor Lawrence — made him attractive to the recovery team, notes CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones.
Just a Jaguar Pass Catcher (DJ Char) has surpassed 1,000 yards since the Allens (Hurns, Robinson) each did so in 2015. While Chark just got there (1,008 yards) wide Gardner Minshew and had a broken ankle at the end of the season, Doug Pederson still expressed interest in re-signing the former second-round pick. But on the first day of the legal tampering period, the Jags issued contracts to Kirk and Zay Jones on a day of big spending on the franchise. That led Char to Detroit.
Of course, Kirk’s next 1,000-yard season will be his first. That added to the surprise factor when he signed his deal, which is effectively a two-year, $37 million deal. Kirk has been a nice addition to Jacksonville, catching 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns in four games.
The Jags, flush with Cap Space, opted to make their No. 1 receiver bet in the free hand. Jacksonville’s draft position and the uncertainty of landing a top gun in a trade played into this decision. The team viewed its draft positions — Nos. 1 and 33 early in the draft — as unideal for landing a wideout that would be ready to contribute immediately, Jones adds, and it wasn’t particularly high Amari Cooper. The Jags were involved in the Cooper sweepstakes, but considering the Browns acquired him for a fifth-round pick swap and a sixth-round pick swap, it’s clear the AFC South team didn’t offer much.
Kirk’s contract helped spur the receiver market boom that followed; 11 wideouts have passed or equaled Kirk’s 18 million AAV deal since. That makes the Jaguars’ thinking a bit forward-thinking. The Jags expected Samuel to rake in more than $20 million a year in payday, Jones adds. Samuel made $23.85 million a year during an off-season that also featured Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, AJ Brown, Stefan Diggs, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, Brandin Cooks and Diontae Johnson Exceed Kirk’s contract between the start of free agency and the preseason. The series of big-ticket wideout deals caused Kirk’s AAV to drop from seventh to 18th at that position.
Another team was willing to offer Kirk $13 million a year, but Jones adds the squad was quickly told it wasn’t at the ballpark. The Eagles briefly pursued Kirk but were unwilling to go anywhere near the Jaguars for the ex-Cardinal runner-up. Philly soon turned around Allen Robinson but saw the Rams beat that offer away, prompting the Eagles to create the fully guaranteed money market by trading for Brown and giving him $56 million at signing. The Jaguars’ focus on landing a high-end goal in the free hand contributed to the domino effect that sent Brown to Philly.