The Jaguars infuriated many teams, and Christian Kirk made many better wide receivers richer.
As part of a frenzied spending spree to usher in a new era, the Jaguars gave the most eye-catching contract of day one of the NFL free agency to a receiver who hasn’t rushed for 1,000 yards in any of his first four seasons: Kirk, reportedly worth a four-year contract of up to $84 million approved.
Even if he’s reduced to his base value of $72 million, Kirk’s deal — including $39 million in the first two years, per NFL Network — is a game changer. His annual salary of $18 million per year is the ninth-highest in the league behind Kenny Golladay of the Giants and Tyreek Hill of Chiefs. The larger contracts include future Hall of Famers like Julio Jones, perennial Pro Bowlers like Keenan Allen and DeAndre Hopkins, and recently franchised Davante Adams and Chris Godwin.
“A significant overpayment,” is how an NFL executive described Kirk’s contract to the Post.
Overall, the Jaguars settled on five players whose peak is likely to top $200 million: Kirk, five-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff (conditions undisclosed), former Jets defense tackle Foley Fatukaski (three years, Dec million US dollars). ), linebacker Foye Oluokun (three years, $45 million), and ex-Giants tight end Evan Engram (one year, $9 million).
A year ago, when the Patriots went on a $300 million free agent spending spree even though the Jaguars had the largest salary cap spot in the NFL, Jacksonville’s approach was more conservative. But the arrival of head coach Doug Pederson and the need to surround quarterback Trevor Lawrence with talent after a disappointing rookie season has prompted more aggressive thinking within the organization, according to a league source.
Adams, who informed the Packers he won’t be playing on the franchise tag, and Godwin are perhaps the biggest winners of the ripple effect from 25-year-old Kirk’s deal. Kirk averaged 12.3 yards per catch with 17 total touchdowns over four years with the Cardinals and played with either DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, or sometimes both, to divert defensive attention. He set career highs with 77 catches for 982 yards in 2021.
Adams, 29, is essentially laughing at those numbers. His average season over the past four years playing with Aaron Rodgers was 108 catches for 1,327 yards and nearly 12 touchdowns. It won’t be crazy now if he asks to top Hopkins’ market-leading $27.5 million a year with the Cardinals.
Godwin, 26, has a cruciate ligament tear, but he’s also had a more productive start to his career than Kirk. And there’s a group of young receivers who are first-time prospects for renewals and entering the final year of their contracts — led by the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, Titans’ AJ Brown, Seahawks’ DK Metcalf and Commanders’ Terry McLaurin — who will soon have agents fighting for “Kirk money.”
Three-time Pro Bowler Allen Robinson, 28, has three seasons with 1,100 receivers and has been considered by some teams as the top receiver available despite coming off a poor season. But it could struggle to keep up with Kirk’s deal unless that move is the start of a widespread market correction.
With few exceptions — Golladay’s contract, for example — bankruptcy trustees have seen a depressed free-agent market over the past two years as college misdemeanors have spawned a plethora of cheaper, immediate talent.
“This is a great wide receiver draft,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said before the Scouting Combine. “I feel like we could copy and paste the comments on wide receiver and use them for the next 20 years because the college game gives us a lot of these guys every year.”
What could Jacksonville have thought to splurge on Kirk?
“He’s a good player with the potential to be a strong No. 2 receiver,” said another league source, adding that the Jaguars don’t have a receiver with Kirk’s versatility or speed.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/14/nfl-free-agency-jags-christian-kirk-deal-a-major-overpay/ Jags’ Christian Kirk gets a ‘huge overpayment’