Christian Kirk didn’t have to wait long to get paid in NFL free agency. The soon-to-be former Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver was handed an astronomical contract by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday, March 14.
The deal was reported and broken down by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:
What the Jags paid left many NFL observers stunned. Kirk has proved himself a capable supporting receiver during four seasons in the pros, but now he’s going to get paid like a marquee name at his position.
Kirk Earning More than Elite Wideouts
One of the most contentious points about Kirk’s proposed new contract is how it will leave him getting paid more than the game’s elite wideouts. Among those aghast at this development, USA Today NFL Insider Safid Deen reeled off the names now getting paid less than Kirk:
One name Deen didn’t include was Green Bay Packers’ star Davante Adams. Arguably the most talented wideout in football, Adams won’t make as much as Kirk, even if he has to play under the franchise tag, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN:
Barnwell’s fellow ESPN analyst Mina Kimes doubled down on the surprising discrepancy between what Adams and Kirk will earn:
Playing with the tag may not even happen for Adams since the 29-year-old has already indicated he doesn’t want to be franchised for 2022. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport recently told Good Morning Football Adams and the Packers “remain far apart on a long-term deal.”
Adams’ next contract should be influenced by Kirk’s salary, and Pro Football Network’s Mike Kaye has a few other suggestions:
Whatever happens with Adams, Kirk is sure to be under pressure to live up to a price tag many believes he doesn’t deserve. The problem is the receiver’s track record, which has left several observers unimpressed.
Kirk has never posted 1,000 yards in a season. One receiver who has reached that milestone twice is Terry McLaurin of the Washington Commanders.
McLaurin and his reps should be celebrating the Jags’ decision to break the bank for Kirk, according to Kevin Sheehan of TheTeam980:
The sentiment was echoed by Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post:
Yet, it isn’t only fellow wideouts who should be happy about what Kirk is getting paid. The feeling extends to those tasked with covering receivers.
Ramsey took up the cause for every corner who believes they should get paid at least as much as the pass-catchers. Meanwhile, Slay joked he might try out for the other side of the ball:
A lot of people had fun with Kirk’s new contract, but a few offered reminders of what the player can bring to a passing game.
Kirk A Big Loss for Cardinals and Upgrade for Jags
While he wasn’t the big-name receiver in Arizona, Kirk still put up solid numbers. He came into his own last season while DeAndre Hopkins struggled with a knee injury and A.J. Green failed to live up to the hype.
The breakdown proves the Cards will miss Kirk. It also shows why the Jaguars likely paid up to secure a receiver who should become the primary target in their offense.
A safe pair of hands is needed in Jacksonville, where the Jags are committed to furthering the development of second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Kirk can accelerate the process thanks to his ability to make big plays over the middle, a talent detailed by ESPN’s Matt Bowen:
Kirk may have gotten paid over the odds, but he’s also a useful receiver who has flashed the traits to be the No. 1 guy in the right offense. That opportunity never came with the Cardinals, but an increased role should see Kirk post the kind of numbers appropriate for his contract.