The Jacksonville Jaguars made one of the most surprising moves of the offseason when they broke the bank to sign former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk. They inked him to a four-year, $72 million deal with $37 million guaranteed and a max value of $84 million. His contract will likely reset the market for future wide receivers to hit the market while also making Kirk a top-10 paid player at his position, according to average annual value.
It’s a surprising move for the Jaguars to pay him that much money because it’s unlikely any other franchise offered him anywhere near that amount. That said, they are in a situation where they are banking on a receiver who has never hit the 1,000-yard mark to be “the guy” (at least for now) in Jacksonville.
Here are three things to know about Jacksonville’s newest wide receiver:
Kirk was mentored by Larry Fitzgerald
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) scores a touchdown during the third quarter at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn.
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Kirk played with Fitzgerald during the last three seasons of his career. After he was drafted by Arizona, stories and pictures surfaced about how Kirk idolized Fitzgerald. There was one picture of Kirk when he was six, posing with the future Hall-of-Famer at one of his camps.
Fitzgerald has served as a mentor for Kirk since he entered the league and still remains in contact with him. In fact, Kirk said he connected with Fitzgerald before signing with the Jags.
“I talked to him the day after I signed here, and he was just so happy for me because he has been able to see all the hard work that I’ve put in,” Kirk said last week. “He’s been there every step of the way just being able to be a mentor and a big brother to me and just lead the way. I’m forever grateful for our relationship and our friendship and being a teammate of his was definitely a dream come true for me.”
Heading forward, the connection could be more important than ever for the 25-year-old, as it appears the Jags are expecting him to lead the way for their receiving corps like Fiztgerald once did in Arizona.
Kirk can play outside and in the slot
Sep 26, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell (32) and cornerback Chris Claybrooks (27) in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Kirk excelled often in the slot position in Arizona, but he does have experience playing outside. Jacksonville needed a true WR1 this offseason and still may not have one, but Kirk could potentially fill that role.
He started his career playing mostly on the perimeter with the Cardinals. However, the team then moved him inside where he feels most at home as they added more receivers. He has 1,278 career slot reps and then 1,707 reps outside, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Jaguars should experiment with putting Kirk out wide but also allow him to play where he feels the most comfortable. That seems to be what Doug Pederson has in mind for him as he said the Jags will look to move their receivers around last week.
Kirk was a solid draft prospect coming into the league
Dec 29, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) runs the ball in the third quarter against Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Coby Davis (20) in the 2017 Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Coming into the NFL, Kirk was a highly regarded prospect coming out of Texas A&M. He ended his time in College Station with All-SEC honors in 2017 and also was able to do so the year before.
As a high school athlete, Kirk was highly-regarded, too. Both Scout and Rivals deemed him a five-star recruit, and ranked him as the No. 1 and No. 3 wide receiver recruit, respectively, out of the 2015 recruiting class.