The Jacksonville Jaguars were the biggest spenders on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, and they drew some attention with the Christian Kirk contract. According to reports across the league, Jacksonville gave the former Arizona Carindal a four-year, $72 million contract that could be worth as much as $84 million if he hits all his incentives.
It goes without saying that this is a lot of money, especially for a player that has yet to record a 1,000-yard season. While Kirk might not ever be worth it on a dollar-for-dollar basis, a deep dive into the numbers shows why the Jaguars felt the need to spend up and get this young playmaker.
Why the Jacksonville Jaguars Handed Out the Christian Kirk Contract
Christian Kirk Is Good At Football
Christian Kirk might not be a top-five receiver in the league, but the underlying numbers suggest that he is better than his raw production would suggest. Kirk’s 4.47 40-yard speed shows up all over the film, as the former second-round pick has graded out as a near-elite intermediate and deep threat, per Pro Football Focus.
I mean…these are some of the best reviving grades in the NFL at the intermediate and deep levels of the field, which was what Detroit is missing. pic.twitter.com/62YE4EV0DU
— Restore the Roar (@DETROlTLions313) March 13, 2022
The values above show that Kirk can make a difference in the deep part of the field, but he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Matt Harmon of Reception Perception charts every route a wide receiver runs, and he found that Kirk knows how to find the open holes in zone coverage and can easily slide in as the top option in this passing game. Additionally, Harmon agrees with PFF’s analysis that Kirk has what it takes to be a great deep threat.
New Jaguars WR Christian Kirk is coming off a nice season as a vertical/intermediate slot option. Strong 80.1% success rate vs. zone coverage. Jags badly needed someone to give Lawrence layup targets.
Full #ReceptionPerception profile live on the site:https://t.co/HGHXGGDJvh pic.twitter.com/OdcHV99nhl
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) March 14, 2022
Making Trevor Lawrence Comfortable Is Priceless
It goes without saying that the quarterback is the most important position in all of football. In today’s pass-heavy NFL, it is simply impossible to compete for a championship if you don’t have a reliable option under center. The Jaguars have one of the best prospects in recent memory running the offense, and they need to do everything possible to ensure the Clemson product reaches his ceiling.
Nobody can blame Lawrence for his statistically underwhelming rookie season. The quarterback ranked near the bottom of just about every quarterback stat, but he was put into a truly awful situation. Urban Meyer might have been the worst coaching hire of the decade, DJ Chark suffered an injury early in the season, and by the end of the season, Laquon Treadwell was the top option in the passing attack.
The quarterback has the largest effect on the offense by a wide margin, but nobody can do it alone. The Jaguars desperately needed to bring in some fresh blood and give Lawrence a genuine shot to succeed. Christian Kirk is easily the best receiver Lawrence has worked with in his professional career, and if the wide receiver can help Lawrence reach his potential, then he’ll be worth every penny.
Even if Kirk doesn’t pan out, it’s easy enough for the Jaguars to get out of his contract. A rookie quarterback is one of the biggest competitive advantages in all of football, and having one gives the Jaguars the luxury of setting the market on free agents. Jacksonville has an out in Kirk’s contract after two years, meaning they can cut him with only $10 million in dead money. This is right around the time Lawrence starts getting more expensive, so if Kirk doesn’t play up to expectation, then Jacksonville can move on and find somebody else without the contract adversely affecting anyone.
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