March 2022: The Los Angeles Rams had been lower than a month faraway from their Tremendous Bowl parade and NFL free company was simply underway. Followers had been a naive group previous to that 2022 offseason, having no concept about the storm of game-changing strikes that lay instantly in entrance of us. Earlier than Russell Wilson to the Broncos, Davante Adams to the Raiders, Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, and AJ Brown to the Eagles, there was one transfer that set all of the big-name free agent signings into movement — Christian Kirk signing a four-year, $72 million (as much as $84 million by way of incentives) take care of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Certain, this wasn’t the primary transfer of the offseason, because the tweet above mentions, but it surely was the primary main signing. Kirk had simply come off the most effective season of his profession, racking up 77 receptions, 982 yards, and 5 touchdowns with the Arizona Cardinals. Nonetheless, when phrase hit the web of Kirk’s deal, followers in all places collectively tilted their heads in confusion. Certain, he was respectable, however not price as much as $21 million a 12 months, proper?
Properly, after one season in Jacksonville, the Jaguars appear like geniuses. When thrust into the highlight, Kirk thrived, setting new profession highs in each class that issues. He expedited quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s improvement and his Jags are set to run the AFC South for years to come back. Though paying somebody with as little success within the NFL as Kirk appeared questionable on the time, it paid dividends as a result of the Jaguars noticed what Kirk may develop into. Each group ought to be striving for a brand new fancy broad receiver to assist their younger quarterback, even when it means paying a reasonably penny. Hill helped Tua Tagovailoa. Brown helped Jalen Hurts. Though so many proficient receivers is probably not accessible by way of commerce as had been final offseason, the 2023 free-agent class nonetheless holds just a few gems on the place, most notably 26-year-old Jakobi Meyers.
What about different free-agent WR expertise?
Whereas different, extra established receivers like Tremendous Bowl champ JuJu Smith-Schuster or Aaron Rodgers’ prime goal from 2022 Allen Lazard could also be safer choices, the upside that Meyers brings to the desk could be very paying homage to pre-Jags Christian Kirk. Meyers thrives within the slot — though he has proven an potential to win on the surface as nicely. In 2022, he lined up within the slot for 333 offensive snaps (51.7 p.c of the time) — the Sixteenth-most slot snaps within the league. He accrued 67 receptions, 804 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns in simply fourteen video games whereas working in a really run-heavy, conservative offense with subpar quarterback play and Matt Patricia as his offensive coordinator. That’s numerous components working towards Meyers, and but he confirmed flashes of prime receiver potential.
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Now, Kirk and Meyers don’t share most of the identical instruments. Kirk is a YAC monster with upper-end velocity and elusiveness. Meyers excels in contested catch conditions. During the last three years, he’s maintained a 69 p.c catch price on contested balls. That’s the most effective marks within the league. Nevertheless, the purpose nonetheless stays. Each gamers had been underutilized by the group that drafted them and had the instruments to burst into stardom underneath the fitting circumstances. Fortunate for Meyers, Kirk paved the best way for the NC State product to earn a large payday forward of 2023.
The place can Meyers excel?
The subsequent query ought to be “Okay, nicely clearly, the Patriots weren’t the fitting system to maximise Meyers’ skills. Who’s?” The only reply can be to duplicate a group within the Jaguars’ state of affairs — good head coach, younger quarterback, strong run sport however not a run-heavy offense, and in want of expertise at receiver. The New York Giants fulfill three of these classes. Sadly, they’re a reasonably run-heavy group, rating twenty second in pass-play proportion final season. Moreover, the run sport won’t be as strong for Large Blue in 2023 ought to Saquon Barkley not be re-signed. The Colts and/or Texans are most likely the most effective matches relying on what they do within the upcoming draft. Certain, each groups are heading into 2023 with rookie head coaches, which may additionally alter their pass-heavy tendencies from 2022 (rating ninth and tenth within the league), however that’s as near 4 examine marks as we’re going to get.
Meyers’ deal may set the usual for the remainder of the 2023 free agent broad receiver class as nicely. In actuality, although, nobody, besides perhaps Smith-Schuster ought to come near the typical annual worth Meyers will command. Odell Beckham Jr. is ageing and didn’t play in any respect final season. Allen Lazard had a possibility to take over all of the targets Davante Adams left in Inexperienced Bay. He acquired outshined by a pair of rookie broad receivers. Darius Slayton was inconsistent. Julio Jones simply ain’t the man he as soon as was.
The very fact of the matter is that a number of groups watched different organizations pay large cash for broad receivers final offseason, and nearly all of them panned out precisely how their franchise had hoped. Even when Meyers doesn’t possess the abilities essential to explode in 2023 as Kirk did. I discover it onerous to suppose some group received’t be prepared to take such a danger. Personally, although, I think about him. Don’t be shocked when it occurs.