Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk is earning his offseason contract so far

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars’ signing of wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72 million contract with $37 million guaranteed raised eyebrows and some snickers across the league.

Nobody’s laughing now.

Kirk had six catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 24-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, for a total of 12 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season. He’s averaging 16.3 yards per catch -- nearly four yards more than his career average -- and has been the key to the Jaguars’ passing game in their 1-1 start.

“I don’t want to say it in [these] terms, but we paid that man a lot of money and he deserves every bit of it,” defensive end Josh Allen said. “We know that as a team. I was super excited that we got him because I know what type of player he is. I played against him. I’ve seen him. I watch film. I know what type of player he is so to have him on our team to make big plays is incredible. I think he’s going to continue to make big plays for us.”

That’s certainly what GM Trent Baalke and head coach Doug Pederson envisioned when they gave him a contract that at the time put him in the top 10 in terms of average annual salary ($18 million). They needed to bolster the playmakers around Trevor Lawrence and atop their list was the 25-year-old Kirk, who had spent the first four years of his career in Arizona playing with Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green.

Still, that was a lot of money for a player that had never had a 1,000-yard season or caught more than 77 passes in a single season. He’s on pace -- through two games, anyway – to surpass both in 2022. Though he’s lining up mainly in the slot, Pederson is moving him around in his offense, even lining him up in the backfield at times.

His second touchdown catch, for example, came after he crossed in front of Lawrence after the snap and ran into the flat, where Lawrence rolled right and hit him for a 5-yard gain.

“It’s all about matchups,” Kirk said. “One thing when we first installed this offense is Doug and [offensive coordinator] Press [Taylor] kind of harped on is, ‘We’re going to put you guys in the situations and the matchups to be able to take advantage of that.’

“It’s great week in and week out they have a plan, they have a vision of what they want to look like.”

The plan, apparently, is to throw Kirk the ball a lot. He has a team-high 20 targets through two games.

“Christian [Kirk] is a great player,” Pederson said. “That's why we went out and got him in free agency, and you can see it now two weeks in a row, some of the plays that he's made. He's made an impact for our offense. But yeah, it's just a matter of them just continuing to work, stay on the same page, again, coming up with game plans that help Christian get open and Trevor [Lawrence] to find him.”

Though the 195 yards are the most Kirk has had in a two-game stretch in his career -- and he is clearly getting No. 1 receiver work -- he’s staying away from snapping back at any of the criticism about getting overpaid.

Maybe when the season’s over he’ll have something to say, but not now.

“The way I look at it is it doesn't say much because I’ve got to do this for all 17 weeks,” he said. “And that's my plan. This is just two weeks. That's my demeanor. I'm here to do this for all 17 weeks and help this team win. Being productive and helping this team getting Ws and putting us in position to make a playoff push, that's all I can ask for.

“That’s my mentality and that's my attitude for the rest of the year.”