In the NFL, being a superstar doesn’t always guarantee you the big paydays that some of your peers may get. Breaking the bank depends on your skill level, but getting that major bag also depends on what position you play, timing and temperature of the market.
For example, wide receiver Christian Kirk got a huge payday.
On Monday, Kirk, who’s a solid second-tier starting receiver, signed a four-year, $84 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He receives a $20 million signing bonus as well, and instantly becomes the go-to guy in Jacksonville for Trevor Lawrence, who’s going into his second year as Jaguars quarterback.
With former Jaguar D.J. Chark signing with Detroit, the speedy Christian Kirk becomes the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville and a vertical threat for Lawrence to exert his arm strength.
Congrats to Kirk for earning that money, but with that being said, a lot of people feel like he was overpaid, and further, this signing changed the financial landscape of the wide receiver free agent market.
Receivers are now going to their agents hoping for more lucrative deals because they saw a guy who wasn’t the No. 1 in Arizona make superstar money.
Kirk, in his fifth year, is a good player. He had 77 catches for 982 yards, which statistically makes him the NFL’s 27th best receiver.
And what about the players who have to defend these highly paid elite receivers weekly?
Pro Bowl cornerbacks Darius Slay and Jalen Ramsey aren’t mad at the guy. They definitely feel like Kirk’s signing raises the question of salary and pay for some of the league’s finest cornerbacks.
Ramsey is the NFL’s highest-paid corner and probably the best cover guy in the league, but he makes just $20M per. In fact, he’s the only cornerback (according to overthecap.com) that has reached the $20M mark.
The receivers aren’t the people taking issue with that signing; heck, they get to ask for more money for their services now. The people who really have a beef with this signing are the defensive backs, especially the premier ones.
Shortly after Kirk’s signing was announced, Eagles Pro Bowl defensive back Darius “Big Play” Slay put out a combo of tweets, starting with “Yea tae go want 30m’s lol,” in reference to superstar wide receiver Davante Adams, who at the time of the tweet was still a Green Bay Packer looking to cash in before ultimately being traded to the Raiders and signing a monster five-year deal making him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.
Slay’s second tweet was full of sarcasm, as Slay contemplated becoming a receiver to be able to get that type of contract: “I need to start working on my routes… back peddling is not it no more!!”
Rams All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey added to this by replying to the latter comment saying, “Either that or our prices just went up, how we locking down guys who get paid more than us… it’s all blessings tho.”
Either that or our prices just went up❕ how we locking down guys who get paid more than us 😂… it’s all blessings tho 🙏🏾 https://t.co/rBWHnXeHtP
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) March 14, 2022
The two defensive backs were poking major fun at Kirk and his contract, but they weren’t joking, nor were they lying. Slay and Ramsey are some of most deserving of monster contracts for defensive backs, and there has to be a conversation about why the guys who are tasked with stopping some of the best receivers have contracts that pale in comparison.
Almost anybody who plays football will tell you that cornerback is probably the hardest position to play due to what little you have to work with, especially the fact that you’re already starting out backpedaling while receivers are running at you with full strength and can stop on a dime at any moment.
Sometimes cornerbacks are left alone with no safety help against some of the most dangerous receivers, so when you have someone that can come and shut that side of the field down by themselves that’s an extremely valuable asset to have.
Even more valuable when you can throw them on the opposing team’s best receiver and hold those players to minimum results, so guys like Slay and Ramsey need to get paid top dollar to defend the best of the best.
According to NFL.com, Kirk is dedicated to proving that he is worth the money.
“The $18 million-per-year average puts Kirk in the top 10 of highest-paid players in the NFL, more than Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, Allen Robinson, Stefon Diggs and many others with more prolific careers.
“I’m very confident in my potential and my ability,” Kirk told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I feel like I have so much more left in the tank to be able to show and be able to keep proving, not only to others but to myself that I’m the player I know I am.”