ARIZONA CARDINALS

Could former Cardinals WR Christian Kirk take step forward with Jaguars?

Jun 11, 2022, 7:15 AM

Nobody blamed Christian Kirk for taking a massive four-year contract to leave the Arizona Cardinals for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Details of the contract, which could max out at $84 million, leaked out that added context to that inflated figure. Only $37 million of it is guaranteed, and a majority of that is via a signing bonus.

Nevertheless, it’s still gobs of money for the Jaguars to lure Kirk away from his home state and the franchise that drafted him in the second round back in 2018.

There’s good reason for them to do so. The 33rd Team’s Nolan Murt writes that Kirk is among four players who will “take the next step” during the 2022 NFL season.

Back to that word “context:” Murt believes that Jacksonville is doing right by surrounding second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence with protection and weapons after one of the top QB prospects in the past decade struggled on a talent-deficient roster that fired its troubled head coach before his first season even ended.

Lawrence’s development through his first contract is the critical path to the success of the franchise, and if his growth doesn’t continue as planned, the financial planning for the future, quite frankly, is irrelevant. For this reason, the overall strategy has merit. In particular, the lavish signing of Kirk was a prudent decision for both sides.

… It is truly vital for a young quarterback to have a go-to guy. In Kirk, this is what the Jaguars have provided their field general, and with how heavily Lawrence will lean on him, Kirk is primed to produce at the level his contract suggests.

From his threatening speed to his savvy separability to his excellent ball skills, Kirk owns all the tools to be a quarterback’s dream. As the featured receiver in this offense, his new contract may have started the conversation about him in 2022, but his production this season will continue that conversation for years to come.

Kirk stands out among the four players on Murt’s list considering his change in scenery doesn’t exactly look that much better compared to his past few seasons with Arizona.

Second-year Tampa Bay outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has the least amount of experience of the four players Murt believes will take the next step, whereas Denver receiver Tim Patrick (2,009 career receiving yards) and Kansas City Chiefs safety Justin Reid (316 career tackles) have relatively even experience with Kirk.

Reid goes to the Super Bowl-contending Chiefs after playing for a scuffling Texans squad for four seasons, Tryon-Shoyinka can take on a bigger role on a veteran defense, while Patrick gets a huge quarterback upgrade with Russell Wilson taking over the Broncos.

In 2022, Kirk raised his personal bar pretty high and was 18 yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard season.

He has less offensive talent around him and a less-experienced quarterback throwing him the ball. It could be difficult to boost his production significantly.

The counterargument would be that Kirk is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for Lawrence. Jacksonville has steady veteran Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones bolstering the receiving group, along with an upgraded offensive line and second-year man Travis Etienne atop the running back depth chart.

Throw in the fact that Kirk has improved gradually each season, and it’s not farfetched to believe he puts together an even more productive season.

If he even comes close, indeed it will be worth paying him a lot of cash to give Lawrence a safety valve.

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Could former Cardinals WR Christian Kirk take step forward with Jaguars?