Christian Kirk is not to blame for the wide receiver market

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When Christian Kirk signed his 4-year $72,000,000 deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars the market was reset. Specifically, for “qualified” wide receivers. What would follow was a barrage of new contracts for top-tier wide receivers in the National Football League. Notably, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.

Did the Christian Kirk deal break the market? Is Kirk worth the money? The wide receiver market was headed for a showdown no matter what. There are a handful of people, me included – that are optimistic of Kirk’s true value to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Who is to say Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were not going to pursue, and eventually get massive contracts regardless of what Christian Kirk was signed for?

The Packers had minimal leverage in the Davante Adams negotiations once the 2021 season turned over and Adams did not have a new deal. He had zero interest playing under the franchise tag. Las Vegas, a team desperate to make a splash and reunite Davante Adams with his college QB, and bestie Derek Carr were happy to overpay a great, but aging wide receiver.

Davante Adams was signed on a deal that will pay him $40 million dollars in year four, at age 34. By contrast, Christian Kirk will be 29 years old in four years and making $21 million. To think Kirk will be more productive than Davante Adams on the back end of his deal is by no means a stretch. With each passing year older receivers become possession receivers and less explosive threats. Adams needed to capitalize on this now. At age 30 the window was closing. He found a team willing to pay this much. Most would not. This is more about the Las Vegas Raiders, and less about Christian Kirk.

The Tyreek Hill contract is more about the Davante Adams deal than anything else. Hill will receive prime earnings – almost $50 million in year five. Tyreek will only be 32 years old in 2026, moving to the back half of his career coming off huge annual pay. The three years preceding 2026 are bargain years for the Miami Dolphins. These are likely to be his most productive seasons in Miami, and the cheapest.

The news yesterday that A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin and Deebo Samuel will not attend voluntary workouts for their respective teams. Which is interpreted as a potential holdout situation, until these guys secure new contracts, or so the rumor goes.

So how does this all trace back to Christian Kirk? It is simple. “Perceived value.” Kirk’s value is perceived to be much lower than the contract price. The key word here is “perceived.” Christian Kirk caught 77 passes for 982 yards as the second, and at times – third or fourth option last season. Kirk is extremely fast, and his drop rate has never exceeded 6%. The potential here is big. If he fulfills that potential, this contract is a bargain. Teams paying for what will can be as smart as paying for what has been.

* The grid below shows the last three seasons. A comparison of other wide receivers that have signed contracts in the general annual salary tier.

2019 – 2021Receiver RatingAgeAnnual Pay
Christian Kirk98.1626$18,000,000
Mike Williams89.4628$20,000,000
Robby Anderson77.0029$14,750,000
Marquez Valdes-Scantling91.1628$10,000,000
Kenny Golladay93.0029$18,000,000
Corey Davis98.5627$12,500,000
Nelson Agholor92.1329$11,000,000
Courtland Sutton75.2027$15,000,000

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