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Jaguars' Christian Kirk Reflects on Shifting WR Market

Kirk signed a four-year deal with the Jags and the ramifications of this deal shifted the narrative regarding wide receiver contracts for years to come.
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When Christian Kirk and the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to a contract worth $72 million over four years, the initial reactions went about how one would expect it. 

Critics of the deal came in large numbers, many wondered why the Jags would pay a man, who was not the No. 1 wide receiver on his previous team, No. 1 wide receiver money, which is usually reserved for the most accomplished players at the position.

At the time of the deal, only seven receivers made more money annually. DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Amari Cooper, and Chris Godwin are each making $20+ million on their current contracts while Michael Thomas falls just below that threshold at $19.3 million per year. 

Every receiver on this list outside of Mike Williams posted two or more seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving and has been selected to make the Pro Bowl. Williams was named a third alternate for the 2022 Pro Bowl but he wasn’t among the top picks in the AFC.

The initial narrative surrounding the Christian Kirk contract focused on the negative impact such a hefty cost would have on the additional construction of the Jaguars roster. This Jags team is still one that is in the early stages of its rebuild and there are still holes that need to be filled through the draft.

The ramifications of this deal went beyond the team that handed out the contract; it shifted the entire wide receiver market. We don’t truly know yet how much the wide receiver market will change but if the Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams deals indicate anything it is that premium receivers are going to cost a lot more than they previously did. 

These moves in addition to the continued salary cap increase because of TV and gambling revenue make the free agency market for wide receivers something to keep an eye on for the foreseeable future -- something Kirk himself as impacted with his deal in Jacksonville.

In an interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on 'The Adam Schefter Podcast' Kirk expressed his happiness with wide receivers getting their respect and how it impacts the game. 

“I mean I love it for the position and for the game”, Kirk said

“Obviously the cap dictates a lot and with it going up this year you kind of have a feeling that guys were going to be able to get these blockbuster type deals just with there being more money to be allocated for a position that I believe dictates the game in the most impactful way. It’s just good to see guys get rewarded for all that they do, you know, be able to make life-changing money doing what they love.”

Money is an important factor in any free agency decision but the importance of putting ones self into the right situation should not be overlooked. Kirk acknowledged that there were different factors that played into his own decision besides money.

“When free agency started out I didn’t really know what to expect. I was able to reach out to some guys and you know, talk to them and see what their process was like," Kirk said.  

"Some guys were saying that the team you least expect and you know there is other advice of you know, you take less money to go to this place in a certain situation or you take more money to go to this situation. There’s a lot of factors that goes into it and it almost felt like college recruiting again, you know, you have all these options on the table and I was blessed enough to have a lot of traction and a lot of teams calling about me that were interested. It was fun, a fun experience but I believe I ended up in the best place in Jacksonville for me.”

Kirk’s deal with the Jags reset the wide receiver market in terms of financials but factors such as location, organizational competency, and scheme fit still play a huge role in free agency decisions. There is little doubt that the Chrisitan Kirk contract changed the game with how organizations and wide receivers view free agency and trades.