Christian Kirk

Jaguars To Activate WR Christian Kirk

As the Jaguars prepare for a crucial Week 18 matchup against the Titans, the team could be welcoming back a key member of their offense. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are planning to activate wide receiver Christian Kirk from injured reserve. Kirk returned to practice earlier this week.

Kirk underwent core muscle surgery only a month ago, but the Jaguars are planning to activate him after a minimum stay on injured reserve. While the wideout is expected to join the active roster, Rapoport cautions that Kirk is still listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision tomorrow.

“I’m feeling better day by day and just kind of taking it from that standpoint right now,” Kirk said this week (via the team’s website). “I’m just trying to progress every day and do the best that I can to get out there if I can.”

After putting up career-best numbers during his first season in Jacksonville, Kirk has continued his production into 2023. He’s actually increased his receiving yards per game (65.2 to 65.6), receiving success rate (52.6 to 57.6), and catch percentage (63.2 to 67.1), and in his 12 appearances, he’d hauled in 57 catches for 787 yards and three scores. Pro Football Focus has graded him 45th among 125 qualifying wide receivers this season, with the site also giving him a top-15 positional grade for his pass blocking.

Zay Jones has been sidelined for two of Kirk’s four missed games, forcing the Jaguars to lean on their depth behind Calvin Ridley. Tim Jones, Parker Washington, Elijah Cooks, and Jamal Agnew have all seen an increase in snaps over the past few weeks.

While Kirk’s availability will need to be watched, much of the focus in Jacksonville will surround the status of Trevor Lawrence. After missing the first start of his career last weekend, the quarterback practiced on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a sprained AC joint on Christmas Eve.

Jaguars Designate Christian Kirk For Return

Christian Kirk‘s Week 13 injury has made a considerable impact on the Jaguars’ passing attack. The sixth-year wide receiver underwent core muscle surgery, a procedure that threatened his availability for the rest of the season. But the Jags still have a chance to see Kirk return to action.

Jacksonville designated Kirk for return from IR on Wednesday,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Considering this is the first week Kirk could return to practice, the 2022 free agency addition being ready this soon represents a somewhat surprising development.

The former Cardinals second-rounder was believed to need more recovery time. With the Jags in danger of missing the playoffs, they will see how their slot target looks ahead of a win-and-in Week 18 showdown. The Jaguars will face the Titans on Sunday. A win would give them a second straight division title for the first time since the franchise’s back-to-back AFC Central crowns in 1998 and ’99. The team may need some injury timetables to break right to have a good shot at hanging onto this hope.

While the Jags were able to win without Kirk, Zay Jones and Trevor Lawrence, they faced the Panthers in Week 17. Although the Titans have not won a game in the AFC South this season, they represent a more formidable obstacle compared to Carolina. Lawrence did not practice last week, missing his first NFL game, and Jones has not played since Week 15.

Kirk went down in the first half of the Jags’ overtime loss to the Bengals. Illustrating Kirk’s impact, Jacksonville (9-7) entered that Monday-night game 8-3. While Lawrence’s run of setbacks has impacted the Jags during this span as well, the team has struggled offensively for most of the past month without its $18MM-per-year pass catcher. After his first 1,000-yard season, Kirk was on pace for a second prior to the injury. He compiled 787 yards on 57 receptions, scoring three touchdowns in his second Jaguars season.

The Jags defeating the Titans would ensure two AFC South teams qualify for the playoffs, with Saturday night’s Colts-Texans matchup a win-and-in game. If Tennessee upsets Jacksonville, the winner of the Houston-Indianapolis matchup would claim the division title. Lawrence’s availability will be paramount for the Jags, and the prospect of Kirk being back as well would obviously bolster their chances of salvaging their season with a playoff berth.

Jaguars Place WR Christian Kirk On IR

Already known to be facing a multi-week absence, Christian Kirk is now in line to miss an extended stretch. The veteran wideout will be placed on injured reserve, head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday (via Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network). The team has since announced the move.

Kirk will undergo core muscle surgery, a procedure which will shut him down for a critical stretch in the season. With the surgery now confirmed, attention will turn to the 27-year-old’s recovery process. By virtue of being moved to IR, an absence of at least four weeks is now guaranteed. The Jaguars will be without a major part of their offense as a result.

Kirk leads Jacksonville in receiving yards (787) this season, and he also ranks first on the team amongst wideouts in receptions (57). A recovery timeline of up to eight weeks has been floated in his case, something which would end his season unless the Jaguars managed to make a run to the Super Bowl. Coming back along a shorter timeframe could still allow him to return to the lineup in time for the team’s regular season finale, though.

In any event, Kirk’s absence will be acutely felt on an offense which has struggled to consistently produce through the air this season. The former Cardinal has eclipsed 84 receiving yards five times in 2023, his second season in Duval County. His first year with Jacksonville – brought about by the four-year, $72MM deal which raised plenty of eyebrows at the time it was signed – produced a career-best statline of 84-1,108-8.

Year 2 with the Jaguars was likewise proving Kirk’s presence as an integral member of the team’s passing attack. The presence of trade acquisition Calvin Ridley will help offset Kirk’s absence, though a sizeable gap exists between Ridley and Jacksonville’s next most productive wideout (Zay Jones, who has posted 186 yards on 18 catches). Tight end Evan Engram and running back Travis Etienne will be increasingly counted upon with Kirk not in the picture.

Of course, quarterback Trevor Lawrence‘s status is also up in the air after he left Monday’s game with a high ankle sprain. The former No. 1 pick has not been ruled out for Week 14, but he has work to to during practice to convince the coaching staff to continue his streak of having not missed a game in his career. Regardless of who is under center for Jacksonville in the immediate future, though, Kirk will not be available.

Jaguars’ Christian Kirk Likely Needs Surgery; WR To Miss Time

The Jaguars have avoided the worst-case scenario with Trevor Lawrence. The ascending quarterback suffered a high ankle sprain and has been deemed day to day. Once Lawrence returns, he may not have one of his go-to wide receivers available.

Christian Kirk sustained a core muscle injury during Jacksonville’s overtime loss Monday night, and Doug Pederson said (via’s Mike Garafolo) the sixth-year wide receiver will likely need surgery. It has not yet been confirmed Kirk will go under the knife, but the former second-round pick will miss time.

Players regularly return from core surgeries after a number of weeks, so the prospect of Kirk being shut down for a bit — likely via an IR stay — and then coming back later this season may be in play. The team continues to evaluate its 2022 free agency pickup, who has played well since signing a widely scrutinized four-year, $72MM deal. It might not be a lock Kirk comes back, however, with’s Ian Rapoport positing an eight-week recovery timetable could be in play here. Unless the Jaguars qualify for Super Bowl LVIII, such a timeline would end Kirk’s season.

Working in the slot frequently in Jacksonville this season, Kirk has joined Calvin Ridley as Lawrence’s top targets. Kirk resided as the Jags’ No. 1 wideout last season, when he finished with 1,108 receiving yards and eight touchdowns before helping the team erase a 27-point Chargers lead in a historic playoff comeback. This season, Kirk leads the team with 787 yards. Whereas Ridley has been more boom or bust in his first Jags season, Lawrence has been able to rely on Kirk regularly. No Jaguars pass catcher has totaled 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Jimmy Smith in the mid-2000s; this injury could certainly affect Kirk’s chances of matching that feat.

As they were last year, the Jaguars are in good shape regarding injury activations. They have five such moves remaining. Although Kirk going on IR would deal a blow to the Jags’ chances of repeating as division champions for the first time since the late 1990s, the team has Ridley and Zay Jones in place. Jones, who missed extensive time this season, has returned to a regular role. Rookie Parker Washington also scored a touchdown and caught six passes for 61 yards — his first receptions as a pro — against the Bengals. Washington is expected to take over as Jacksonville’s primary slot receiver,’s Michael DiRocco notes. While the sixth-round pick showed promise Monday, DiRocco adds he ran an incorrect route on the play Lawrence suffered the ankle injury.

Kirk, 27, has not missed a game since the 2020 season. He resides as a key long-term piece for the Jags, who have Ridley in a contract year. The dependable target missing an extended stretch could certainly threaten the Jags’ hopes of winning the division, with a potential Lawrence absence compounding the issue. Lawrence has never missed an NFL game.

Texans To Retain LB Cory Littleton, RB Mike Boone

AUGUST 30: While Kirksey has a deal lined up to join the Bills’ taxi squad, the same is not true of Littleton. The latter is remaining in Houston on the team’s 53-man roster, Wilson reports. Littleton has re-signed with the same terms he originally agreed to; that will allow him to max out his 2023 earnings at $2.7MM.

The same release-and-re-sign move has been employed with running back Mike Boone, Wilson adds. Boone will carry on under the terms of the two-year, $3.1MM pact he signed this offseason.

AUGUST 29: Multiple veteran linebackers are receiving their walking papers from the Texans this week. Following the Christian Kirksey cut, the Texans are releasing Cory Littleton, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets.

Littleton joined Denzel Perryman in signing with the team in March. Even without Kirksey, the Texans’ roster includes a number of notable linebackers. Christian Harris, a 2022 third-round pick, joins veterans Blake Cashman and Neville Hewitt. The latter, a special-teamer, re-signed this offseason. The team also drafted Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o in the fifth round.

Big on midlevel veteran additions and short-term contracts under GM Nick Caserio, Houston added Littleton on a one-year, $2.2MM deal. The former Rams, Raiders and Panthers defender received $600K guaranteed, representing the dead money set to come from this release. The Texans are retooling on defense once again, returning to a 4-3 scheme under HC DeMeco Ryans. This has led to some offseason adjustments.

Perryman and Cashman are listed as starters in Houston, Wilson adds. Littleton, 29, has been unable to stick around with a team since his productive Rams tenure ended. Still in their all-in mode when Littleton’s free agency year transpired, the Rams let the starting linebacker walk in 2019. While the Raiders gave Littleton a nice contract (three years, $35.25MM), they restructured it a few times and shed it from their payroll — via a post-June 1 cut — last year. Littleton caught on with the Panthers but only started seven of the 15 games he played last season.

Jaguars Optimistic On Evan Engram Deal, Want To Retain Jawaan Taylor

As the Jaguars transition from spending wildly in 2022 to a 2023 free agency period featuring little action in terms of outside hires, they are going down to the wire with two priority players.

The Jags’ interest in re-signing Evan Engram has been on the radar for a while, but Jawaan Taylor is also a keeper candidate for the resurgent team. GM Trent Baalke confirmed Engram and Taylor talks are ongoing, as the Combine annually ignites discussions between teams and key free agents.

Engram has joined Taylor in indicating he would like to stay in Jacksonville, and’s James Palmer points to optimism a deal will be reached (Twitter link). Particularly with Engram, this will be a time-sensitive matter. The Jags have not ruled out tagging either Engram or Taylor, but with the tight end tag checking in at barely $11MM, Engram profiles as the likelier candidate to be cuffed. It would cost the Jags $18.2MM to tag Taylor.

I think with Jawaan and Evan, I don’t want to speak for them, they know how we feel about them, and I think we know how they feel about us, and there’s a win-win in there somewhere. We’ve just got to get to that,” Baalke said, via the Florida Times-Union’s Demetrius Harvey. “We’ve got a nice window here before free agency starts, and our goal is to try to close those deals within that window.”

Given Engram’s interest in coming back, it should not be considered a lock the Jaguars will lose the seventh-year veteran if they pass on tagging him by the March 7 deadline. But that is the failsafe point for the Jags, who gave the ex-Giants first-rounder a one-year deal worth $9MM in 2022 and saw him produce a single-season franchise record for tight end receiving yards (766). Engram, 28, staying would further strengthen Jacksonville’s receiving corps, which has Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley under contract.

Taylor’s path is a bit more complicated. The Jags already tagged left tackle Cam Robinson twice, eventually extending him last year. The tackle landscape reveals the either/or decisions teams have made recently regarding payments; clubs with big-ticket left tackle deals on their respective payrolls have not doled out much money to right tackles. Robinson’s $17.9MM-per-year pact ranks seventh at left tackle. The Jags have Walker Little as a possible option to succeed Taylor, who would be poised to do well on the market, with dependable O-linemen being coveted commodities annually.

Robinson’s meniscus tear, however, clouds the Jags’ plans here. Robinson would tentatively be on track to return by Week 1, but Doug Pederson confirmed his potential unavailability factors into the Taylor talks. Taylor, 25, has never missed a game as a pro.

The Jags do have more money to work with as they navigate these negotiations now. They recently restructured the contracts of Kirk, Jones, Brandon Scherff and Foye Oluokun, according to’s Field Yates and’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Altogether, this created $36MM-plus in cap space. Jacksonville has boosted its total to $16.1MM, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The team has re-signed Roy Robertson-Harris to a three-year, $30MM deal, keeping the D-line starter off the market. That contract is already factored into the team’s updated payroll. Engram and/or Taylor may follow suit; each would be free to negotiate with other teams beginning March 13.

Notable Incentives Still In Play For 2022

As we head into Week 17, a number of players still have key incentives available. Here is a handful of the notable escalators in reach — many involving Smiths — courtesy of’s Albert Breer.

  • Justin Houston, OLB (Ravens): Already collecting $1MM by reaching 7.5 sacks, the 12th-year pass rusher (nine sacks) can move that number to $1.5MM by getting to 10.
  • Christian Kirk, WR (Jaguars): The big-ticket Jags signing can collect $500K by hitting 80 receptions, with another $500K available if he reaches 90. Kirk has 76 catches. The ex-Cardinal (988 receiving yards) can also collect $1MM by surpassing 1,100.
  • Raheem Mostert, RB (Dolphins): The offseason addition will almost certainly add $1MM to his 2022 earnings. By clearing 900 scrimmage yards, Mostert needs only the Dolphins to stay in the top 25 in total offense. Considering Miami ranks ninth, it is a good bet the ex-49er — who signed for one year and $2.2MM — will cash in.
  • Geno Smith, QB (Seahawks): After already collecting $1MM for hitting playing-time incentives and $500K by making the Pro Bowl, Smith is likely to add another $1MM by eclipsing 4,000 passing yards for the first time. Smith, who signed for one year and $3.5MM, has 3,886 yards through 15 games.
  • Preston Smith, OLB (Packers): Sitting on 8.5 sacks, the veteran edge rusher can collect $1MM by ballooning that number to 10. Another $1MM would be in play for Smith if he reached 12 sacks this season.
  • Za’Darius Smith, OLB (Vikings): The 2022 Minnesota signee can up his incentive package to either $750K by hitting 10.5 sacks or $1MM by reaching 12.5. The veteran edge has 10 sacks through 15 games.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (Chiefs): Leading Chiefs wideouts in receiving yards (877) by a wide margin, Smith-Schuster is likely to enhance his already-impressive incentive collection by topping 900 receiving yards. That would put the ex-Steeler at $3MM in total incentives earned. Signing a one-year deal worth $3.76MM, Smith-Schuster has already collected $2.5MM in escalators.
  • J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals): Lastly, the retiring D-lineman collected $900K by reaching nine sacks (9.5); he can bump that number to $1MM by tallying a 10th sack over the team’s final two games.

Trade Market, Draft Factored Into Jaguars’ Christian Kirk Signing

The Jaguars shocked the NFL world with a four-year, $72MM deal for Christian Kirk, but the former Cardinals receiver checked a lot of boxes the team sought this offseason.

Kirk’s speed profile, durability and being 25 — an age the Jags believed would allow him to grow and develop alongside Trevor Lawrence — made him appealing for the rebuilding team, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports notes.

Only one Jaguar pass catcher (D.J. Chark) has topped 1,000 yards since the team’s tag team of Allens (Hurns, Robinson) each did so in 2015. While Chark narrowly got there (1,008 yards) alongside Gardner Minshew and was coming off a season-ending broken ankle, Doug Pederson still expressed interest in re-signing the former second-round pick. But on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, the Jags handed out contracts to Kirk and Zay Jones on a big-spending day for the franchise. That led Chark to Detroit.

Of course, Kirk’s next 1,000-yard season will be his first. That helped lead to the surprise factor when he inked his deal, which is effectively a two-year, $37MM agreement. Kirk has been a nice addition for Jacksonville thus far, having caught 20 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns through four games.

Flush with cap space, the Jags decided to make their No. 1 receiver bet in free agency. Jacksonville’s draft position and uncertainty of landing a top weapon in a trade factored into this decision. The team viewed its draft position — Nos. 1 and 33 at the draft’s outset — as unideal to land a wideout that would be ready to contribute immediately, Jones adds, and it was not especially high on Amari Cooper. The Jags were involved in the Cooper sweepstakes, but considering the Browns acquired him for a fifth-rounder and a sixth-round pick swap, it is clear the AFC South team was not offering much.

Kirk’s contract helped drive the receiver market’s ensuing boom; 11 wideouts have since passed or matched Kirk’s $18MM-AAV accord. This makes the Jags’ thinking somewhat prescient. The Jags expected Samuel to score a payday north of $20MM per year, Jones adds. Samuel reached $23.85MM per annum during an offseason that also saw Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin, Brandin Cooks and Diontae Johnson surpass Kirk’s contract between free agency’s outset and the preseason. The run of big-ticket wideout deals led to Kirk’s AAV dropping from seventh to 18th at the position.

Another team was prepared to offer Kirk $13MM per year, but Jones adds that squad was quickly told it was not in the ballpark. The Eagles pursued Kirk briefly but were not prepared to go near where the Jaguars did for the ex-Cardinal second-rounder. Philly soon pivoted to Allen Robinson but saw the Rams blow that offer away, leading the Eagles to set the market for fully guaranteed money by trading for Brown and giving him $56MM at signing. The Jaguars’ focus on landing a high-end target in free agency helped lead to the domino effect that sent Brown to Philly.

Eagles Made Several Efforts To Acquire Veteran WR In Offseason

After using first-round picks on wide receivers in each of the previous two drafts, the Eagles were focused on veterans this year. Their pursuit eventually led to a monster A.J. Brown contract, but the team only shifted to the former Titans second-rounder after missing on a few other vets.

The Eagles moved down the line at the position this offseason. After initially pursuing Calvin Ridley, in a trade that was close to completion before the Falcons wideout’s gambling suspension surfaced, the Eagles set their sights on a free agent pass catcher. We heard about the Eagles’ pursuits of Christian Kirk and Allen Robinson, but it appears the team was closer with one of these two.

Philadelphia and Robinson discussed a deal, but Adam Caplan of notes the Rams’ offer “blew him out of the water.” Robinson committed to the Rams, who proposed him a three-year, $46.5MM deal — a pact that includes $30.25MM fully guaranteed. The Rams-Robinson connection came as somewhat of a surprise in March, with the team being connected to re-signing Odell Beckham Jr. for several weeks prior to free agency. But Beckham remains on the defending Super Bowl champions’ radar, even with Robinson and Cooper Kupp‘s contracts on the payroll.

Philly was closer with Robinson than it was with Kirk, per Caplan, who adds the team moved out of the conversation for the former Cardinals wideout after learning what it would take to acquire him. The Jaguars came in with a four-year, $72MM deal ($37MM fully guaranteed) for the former second-round pick. This stalled the Eagles’ wideout pursuit for a stretch, though they did add ex-Nick Sirianni Colts charge Zach Pascal and took a flier on Olympic 110-meter hurdler Devon Allen.

It is interesting how the Eagles’ price changed for Brown, who followed Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill by signing a whopper extension (four years, $100MM) after being traded. While Hill and Adams’ AAVs surpass Brown’s, the ex-Titan’s $56MM fully guaranteed tops all wideouts in that rather important category.

Brown will be expected to anchor a receiving corps that includes DeVonta Smith, whose rookie deal can run through 2025 via the fifth-year option. Had the Rams not come in with their Robinson offer, however, the former Jaguars and Bears pass catcher may well be leading Philly’s receiving corps. The Titans were not prepared to pay Brown what he sought, making an offer of less than $20MM annually, so the team would have needed to move to other options with its contract-year wideout if Robinson had committed to the Eagles. The Jets were the only other team connected to Brown this year, but in a reality in which Robinson chose the Eagles, other teams surely would have been in the mix for Brown.

Eagles Notes: Cox, Lurie, Kirk

The Eagles released longtime DT Fletcher Cox last month to avoid having $18MM of what he was due under his prior contract becoming fully-guaranteed. The club then re-signed him to a one-year, $14MM contract several days later, which, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, is “real” (meaning that Cox will actually earn that money and that the $14MM figure is not inflated by incentives). However, the deal does include two void years to flatten the cap charge, which was especially important since the release already created considerable dead money on the Eagles’ books for the 2022-23 seasons.

Even though Cox is coming off a season in which his play showed noticeable signs of decline and in which he publicly complained about the club’s defensive scheme, his $14MM payout is still $4MM more than what any other free agent interior D-lineman received on a per-year basis this offseason. That has led to plenty of questions about why the Eagles authorized such a contract, but owner Jeffrey Lurie suggested other clubs were willing to pony up for the six-time Pro Bowler, thereby necessitating the financial outlay.

McLane reports that the Eagles did call at least three teams in March to discuss a Cox trade, but just like their in-season trade talks in 2021, the more recent discussions were undermined by Cox’s prior contract and GM Howie Roseman‘s high asking price.

Now for more out of Philadelphia:

  • In the same piece linked above, McLane details the growing role of Lurie’s son, Julian Lurie, within the organization. Now 26, the younger Lurie participated in the NFL’s two-year program for prospective executives upon his graduation from Harvard, he took part in the Eagles’ head coaching interviews in 2021 — ultimately advising his father as the team transitioned from Doug Pederson to Nick Sirianni — and even spearheaded the interviews for the team’s analytics department. Assuming he wants to take up the mantle, it seems that Julian Lurie will someday succeed his 70-year-old father at the top of the franchise.
  • In a piece exploring whether Jeffrey Lurie is too involved in his team’s personnel decisions, which will be of particular interest to Eagles fans, McLane reports that, in 2018, the team was prepared to select one of two receivers in the second round: Ohio State’s Parris Campbell or Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Roseman and then-VP of player personnel Joe Douglas wanted Campbell, but Lurie preferred Arcega-Whiteside, and after Lurie successfully curried Pederson’s support, Roseman and Douglas felt compelled to go along with their wishes. That has led to broader questions about whether Lurie really values Roseman as a GM as much as he says he does, or if he simply likes that he can use Roseman as a “conduit” to the team.
  • The Eagles have not yet acquired a cornerback this offseason, and while Sirianni hyped the unproven contingent of players behind CB1 Darius Slay on the current depth chart — a group that includes Zech McPhearson and Tay Gowan — McLane says the team will almost certainly add a CB or two at some point. The Eagles will hold a “30” visit with top CB prospect Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, and while Gardner may be off the board by the time Philadelphia is on the clock with its No. 15 overall pick, a player like Washington’s Trent McDuffie or LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. could be an option should Roseman decide to select a first-round corner for the first time in his history as a GM.
  • The Eagles have taken some swings at high-profile FA targets this offseason but have mostly come up short (with all due apologies to Haason Reddick and Zach Pascal). In addition to his pursuit of receivers like Allen Robinson and Robert Woods, Roseman also made an offer to former Cardinals wideout Christian Kirk, as McLane writes in a separate article. Kirk, though, received a four-year, $72MM deal from the Jaguars, a move that many have decried as more desperate spending on the part of Jacksonville. Though Kirk would doubtlessly have been an asset to Philadelphia’s WR corps, his $18MM AAV presently looks like an overpay.