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Christian Kirk’s ridiculous free agent contract proves Jaguars operate on their own planet because of GM Trent Baalke



The Jacksonville Jaguars really went for it on Day 1 of the NFL’s legal tampering period ahead of the NFL free agency period. Not only did they land former Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff, but they also offered up a boatload of money to two defenders most fans have never heard of and shook up the market by agreeing to a four-year, $72 million contract with former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk.

Christian Kirk’s contract proves Jaguars operate on their own plant

While the Jaguars often need to overpay free agents to attract them to Duval County, the stink of the failed Urban Meyer era and the return of much-maligned GM Trent Baalke have forced the team to offer up a mint to pretty much all potential additions. There’s no greater example of the Jaguars’ separation from the rest of the league than Kirk’s contract, which hovers between lunacy and outright negligence of the salary cap.

According to what PFN Insider Aaron Wilson has been able to confirm, Kirk’s contract has a maximum value of $84 million with a $72 million base value. Kirk will receive a $20 million signing bonus, guaranteed base salaries of $1.5 million and $15.5 million in 2022 and 2023, respectively, and salaries of $14.5 million and $15.5 million in 2024 and 2025.

Additionally, Kirk will see an annual $500,000 workout bonus, up to $500,000 per year in per-game active roster bonuses, and $3 million in annual incentive clauses, according to league sources.

Did Christian Kirk deserve this free agent contract?

Forget about the $33 million in the deal that isn’t guaranteed. Over the next two seasons, Kirk will average an alarming $19.5 million per year. This is a player who has never caught 80 passes or produced more than 1,000 receiving yards in a single campaign. He’s operated mostly out of the slot, and he’s only 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. At that size, he should be a burner, but instead, he simply has above-average speed.

Kirk is being paid like a top-10 receiver when his résumé screams solid No. 2 pass catcher. Now, the Jaguars will treat him like their go-to target, requiring second-year QB Trevor Lawrence to utilize him as such. That situation is comparable to telling your wife that you’re going to a swanky bed-and-breakfast, but you end up taking her to a Denny’s in front of a cheap motel. Sure, the same functions are there, but the setup is far from ideal.

Kirk is being paid significantly more than Dallas Cowboys wideout Michael Gallup, who despite coming off a torn ACL, has proven to be more consistent than Kirk. While Kirk is counting his millions of new bucks, Gallup is likely staring at his cell phone and wondering why his average salary is trumped by a comparable player by $7.5 million per year. The Cowboys moved Amari Cooper for Gallup, and the Cowboys wideout is still staring into the salary abyss in comparison to Kirk.

And by the way, Kirk isn’t a bad player. He’s proven to be extremely effective across the middle of the field, still has plenty of upside, and is only 25. But the sheer divide between his salary and Gallup’s shows that Baalke and the Jaguars are forced to overspend, largely due to reputation and lack of appeal.

Looking at the Jaguars’ free agency spending spree

The Jaguars’ overspending isn’t limited to just Kirk, either. New York Jets defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun were both gifted similarly over-priced deals in favor of first-day signings. It’s almost as if agents targeted the Jaguars to help raise their clients’ asking prices elsewhere and just finally latched on to the bait when their offers were laughably unattainable elsewhere.

The Jaguars had plenty of cap space, and they deserve to be praised for being aggressive, unlike the Indianapolis Colts, who sat on their hands with roughly $70 million to spend heading into the tampering period. But the outrageous markets they’ve created in the wake of their embarrassing need to overcompensate in free agency is a huge win for agents everywhere.

Oluokun led the league in tackles for a bad Falcons defense, while Fatukasi comes from Jets defense that floundered under a former defensive coordinator. The Jaguars can try to polish up these signings as surefire grabs, and they very well might be, but the rest of the league is watching with smirks on their faces. Oluokun is set to make $15 million per year, while Fatukasi will be averaging $10 million per campaign.

That’s a boatload of money to pay two players who are solid pieces but offer little in the way of moving the needle. The Jaguars are paying superstar rates for proven role players because they aren’t a desirable landing spot after years of losing, head coach turnarounds, and embarrassing personnel mismanagement.

New head coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell should bring optimism to Duval County, but Baalke’s presence continues to remind outsiders of the long-standing issues in Jacksonville. Until Pederson and company start turning things around, overpaying at an alarming rate will be the name of the game at TIAA Bank Field.

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Live Updates, Score, Results, and More From Monday Night Football Matchup




In the first of two games during Monday Night Football’s Week 2 doubleheader, the New Orleans Saints will do battle with the Carolina Panthers in a crucial NFC showdown. In what many consider to be a tossup division, every game counts, especially those against NFC South rivals.

A win here would put the Saints at 2-0, tied for the division lead with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, rookie Bryce Young and the Panthers desperately need to avoid a potential 0-2 start.

Saints vs. Panthers Results and Box Score

We will update the box score as the game continues.

LIVE Highlights and Analysis

We will continue to update this section as the game kicks off.

First Quarter

Panthers 3, Saints 0

7:34 p.m. ET: After another short punt in this one, the Saints start their drive near the 35-yard line. The Saints put together a nice drive thanks to the second appearance of the Swiss Army knife QB/TE/WR/RB Taysom Hill. The Saints’ run game has been trying to figure itself out with Tayson Hill, Jamaal Williams, and Tony Jones Jr. all contributing. The team has yet to really find its rushing attack since the Alvin Kamara suspension.

7:30 p.m. ET: Young’s first possession at home as a Panther ends with a 52-yard FIELD GOAL by Eddie Pinero. The drive was solid, but poor offensive line play and penalties stalled the momentum Young had created. Thielen already has three receptions on the day, which is a good sign for the team after the WR finished last week with just 2 receptions for 12 yards in their Week 1 loss to the Falcons.

7:23 p.m. ET: After taking a big hit on his first play, Young hands off to RB Miles Sanders who breaks off an impressive first down run. The Panthers follow up the big run with a short pass to veteran offseason acquisition Adam Thielen.

7:20 p.m. ET: The Panthers’ defense ended the Saints’ first drive with a big sack on QB Derek Carr thanks to LB Frankie Luvu. After a bad punt from New Orleans’ P Lou Hedley, rookie Bryce Young starts his first drive with excellent field position. The Saints have one of the best defenses in the NFL and will provide quite the test for the first-year starter.

7:16 p.m. ET: The night got started with the premiere of Monday Night Football’s brand new anthem “In the Air Tonight” featuring Chris Stapleton, Snoop Dogg, and Cindy Blackman Santana. The song has been well received by NFL fans and is a remake of the classic Phil Collins version.

How To Watch Saints vs. Panthers Monday Night Football

ESPN airs three Monday Night Football doubleheaders this season, with the first two broadcasting in Weeks 2 and 3. Here’s how to watch tonight’s first MNF game, including the start time, TV channels, and live stream options.

  • Date
    Monday, Sept. 18
  • Start time
    7:15 p.m. ET
  • Location
    Bank of America Stadium
  • Channel
  • Live stream options
    YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, FuboTV

Saints vs. Panthers Betting Predictions and Best Bets

All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook unless stated otherwise.

  • Spread
    Saints -3
  • Moneyline
    Saints -155, Panthers +130
  • Total

As we prepare for Monday Night Football, let’s take a look at what two PFN betting analysts had to say regarding the outcome of this game. Brian Blewis and Kyle Soppe each provide their best bet and prediction for the NFC South showdown.

Soppe: Last season, the Panthers, despite a schedule with subpar quarterback talent on the opposition, ranked 21st in yards per pass. That alone would mean targeting them through the air as an option, and with 2021 first-round pick Jaycee Horn on IR (hamstring), this is a good spot to load up on the Saints.

MORE: Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

In Week 1, Rashid Shaheed again showcased his game-breaking abilities. With Derek Carr’s aDOT continuing to trend up (second highest in Week 1), Shaheed’s 4.3 speed is a weapon of mass destruction. He has a 30+ yard grab in seven of his past 11 games and has been efficient in his young career (33 catches on 40 targets).

Picks: Rashid Shaheed over 36.5 receiving yards (-125 at DraftKings), Shaheed to record 50+ receiving yards (+165 at DraftKings)

Blewis: Chris Olave was a popular pick to have a breakout season in 2023, and he did not disappoint in Week 1. Despite leaving the game briefly with an injury, Olave had eight catches for 112 yards on 10 targets, including a 45-yard reception. It took just one game, but it looks like he already has chemistry with Carr.

This week, he goes against a Panthers team missing their best player in the secondary (Horn).

With a short spread on the road against a divisional rival, I’m not expecting this game to be a blowout, so I believe the Saints won’t be taking their foot off the gas early in this one. As of writing this, there’s a three-yard disparity in Olave’s prop at DraftKings and FanDuel, leading me to believe this number will only go up.

Pick: Chris Olave over 69.5 receiving yards (-115 at DraftKings)

Saints vs. Panthers Fantasy Advice

PFN’s Fantasy Analyst Kyle Soppe broke down this Monday Night Football game for all fantasy football enthusiasts. With analysis for every single fantasy-relevant player in this game, you can ensure that you make the best choices for your lineups. Here is what Soppe had to say regarding the quarterbacks in this one.


Derek Carr: Carr checked all of the boxes I needed him to in the Saints’ Week 1 win, and I think he’ll be a phenomenal bye-week filler when the time comes. He hit four different players with a 25-yard pass and showcased good touch on the deep ball.

His lack of rushing upside hurts, and Jamaal Williams’ potential to soak up scores will keep Carr outside of my top 15 most weeks, but mark my words – his floor will be appealing as the weather cools.

Bryce Young: Maybe Young will turn into something with time, but a fantasy football asset in 2023 is not in the cards. In his debut, he completed just 20 of 38 passes for 146 yards with a touchdown and two picks. The 16-yard run was good to see – he’s a dynasty stash that is nothing more than a Superflex streamer at the moment.

You can see the entire fantasy breakdown here: Saints vs. Panthers Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em

Saints vs. Panthers Latest Injury News, Projected Lineups, and Inactives

The Panthers had three players on the injury report this week. CB Jaycee Horn was placed on injured reserve (IR) ahead of the game, while OT Taylor Moton was cleared on Saturday. WR DJ Chark Jr. was able to practice in full on Saturday but is still listed as questionable. The expectation is that he will be able to go.

MORE: NFL Week 2 Winners and Losers

The Saints opened the week with five players on the injury report. Two were for rest purposes, while TE Juwan Johnson was able to practice in full by Thursday. RB Kendre Miller and DB J.T. Gray were both limited all week in practice and are listed as questionable heading into the games.

Saints Inactives

RB Kendre Miller
RB Kirk Merritt
WR A.T. Perry
WR Lynn Bowden
OL Nick Saldiveri
DE Kyle Phillips

Panthers Inactives

RB Raheem Blackshear
CB Sam Webb
OLB DJ Johnson
G Nash Jensen
OT David Sharpe

What Are the Starting Lineups for Each Team?

Saints Projected Starters

The projected starting lineup is based on the current Saints depth chart.

  • Quarterback: Derek Carr
  • Running Back: Jamaal Williams
  • Fullback: Adam Prentice
  • Wide Receiver: Michael Thomas and Chris Olave
  • Tight End: Juwan Johnson
  • Left Offensive Tackle: Trevor Penning
  • Left Guard: Andrus Peat
  • Center: Erik McCoy
  • Right Guard: Cesar Ruiz
  • Right Offensive Tackle: Ryan Ramczyk
  • Left Defensive End: Cameron Jordan
  • Left Defensive Tackle: Nathan Shepherd
  • Right Defensive End: Carl Granderson
  • Right Defensive Tackle: Khalen Saunders
  • SAM Linebacker: Zack Baun
  • MIKE Linebacker: Demario Davis
  • WILL Linebacker: Pete Werner
  • Left Cornerback: Paulson Adebo
  • Right Cornerback: Marshon Lattimore
  • Free Safety: Tyrann Mathieu
  • Strong Safety: Marcus Maye
  • Kicker: Blake Grupe
  • Punter: Lou Hedley
  • Long Snapper: Zach Wood
  • Punt Returner: Rashid Shaheed
  • Kickoff Returner: Rashid Shaheed

Panthers Projected Starters

The projected starting lineup is based on the current Panthers depth chart.

  • Quarterback: Bryce Young
  • Running Back: Miles Sanders
  • Fullback: Giovanni Ricci
  • Wide Receiver: DJ Chark Jr. and Jonathan Mingo
  • Tight End: Hayden Hurst
  • Left Offensive Tackle: Ikem Ekwonu
  • Left Guard: Cade Mays
  • Center: Bradley Bozeman
  • Right Guard: Chandler Zavala
  • Right Offensive Tackle: Taylor Moton
  • Defensive End: DeShawn Williams
  • Defensive Tackle: Derrick Brown
  • Nose Tackle: Shy Tuttle
  • Left Outside Linebacker: Brian Burns
  • Left Inside Linebacker: Frankie Luvu
  • Right Inside Linebacker: Shaq Thompson
  • Right Outside Linebacker: Justin Houston
  • Left Cornerback: Jeremy Chinn
  • Right Cornerback: Donte Jackson
  • Free Safety: Xavier Woods
  • Strong Safety: Vonn Bell
  • Kicker: Eddy Piniero
  • Punter: Johnny Hekker
  • Long Snapper: JJ Jansen
  • Punt Returner: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
  • Kickoff Returner: Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Ryan Gosling is the Director of Search Intent and Strategy for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Ryan’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @ryangoslingPFN.

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Should I Cut Commanders Running Back Antonio Gibson in Fantasy Football This Week?




Before Week 2, I recommended that Antonio Gibson should be cut from your fantasy football team in my article about who should be the starting running back for the Washington Commanders. Did anything change in Week 2 to make me reconsider?

Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Start/Sit Optimizer to help you make the right decision.

Antonio Gibson’s Rest-of-Season Fantasy Outlook

I thought Gibson would be able to shine as the receiving back this season. I have been proven wrong so far. There is virtually no chance that he will be the lead back over Brian Robinson anymore, with Gibson’s fumbling issues resurfacing already this season.

Gibson had a 9% rushing and a 9% target share in Week 2. He has 18 total rushing yards and 54 total receiving yards through two games.

This is his role now and into the foreseeable future. He is a complementary player whose immense talent will likely never shine through like many fantasy managers, myself very much included, believed.

Of course, Gibson can go untouched for 90 yards to the house if the blocking is perfect. Still, almost every professional running back can do that.

Should I Cut Gibson?

Talent can keep you in the NFL but doesn’t have to keep you on my fantasy team. I would instead grab a young player who has yet to be given a chance, like Tyjae Spears, Roschon Johnson, or even Kendre Miller or De’Von Achane.

I want my bench to have upside, and Gibson left his at Memphis. Even if Robinson got hurt, I do not think Gibson would be the starter.

MORE: Fantasy Buy Low, Sell High Week 3

It is time to stop being the definition of crazy by expecting different results without having a reason to. This hurts my heart, but CUT Gibson now, and maybe someone else will pick him up and clog a roster spot with him. I am rooting for the guy, but it is just not going to happen this season.

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Why Did the Panthers Trade Christian McCaffrey? Revisiting Carolina’s Blockbuster Deal With the 49ers




Christian McCaffrey is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers knew what they had in McCaffrey when they drafted him with the eighth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, injuries began to catch up with McCaffrey, making him expendable to Carolina. The 49ers, eager to change their fortunes, swooped in and pulled off a trade to alter the course of both franchises.

Christian McCaffrey Trade Details

Carolina Panthers receive: 2023 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick, and 2024 fifth-round pick.

San Francisco 49ers receive: RB Christian McCaffrey.

Players Involved in McCaffrey Trade

The only player involved in the trade for McCaffrey was McCaffrey. The Panthers’ all-around back wanted to play for a winner, the 49ers wanted to add another linchpin to their already dynamic offense. The fit makes sense, but the Panthers were asking for a first-round pick in return.

The 49ers didn’t match the ask for a first-round pick, but the number of draft picks they sent the Panthers equated to a first-round value, so the teams agreed to the deal.

Who Won the McCaffrey Trade?

For Carolina, the goal was to accumulate draft capital, provide franchise flexibility, and get your franchise QB. The Panthers obtained that goal and used some of the picks they accumulated in the McCaffrey trade to move up to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select Bryce Young.

MORE: Best Running Backs in the NFL 2023

If Young becomes the franchise savior, the McCaffrey trade will be successful. If Young falls on his face, the deal will be another regret in a long line of mistakes by a bungling franchise.

It remains too early to tell who won the McCaffrey trade. McCaffrey has made a substantial difference on the 49ers’ offense. Kyle Shanahan is well-known for making something out of nothing with his exotic running scheme, but acquiring a player like McCaffrey takes the run game to a whole new level.

McCaffrey isn’t just an RB. Many NFL scouts and analysts believe McCaffrey is the top pass catcher out of the backfield in the league. He impacts the game in many ways, and San Francisco adding him to a room of talented playmakers like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle is almost unfair.

For the 49ers to pay off the McCaffrey trade, they must win a Super Bowl. You don’t push all of your chips into the middle of the table for an RB, a position most of the league has devalued, and view anything but a title as a success.

The 49ers fell short last season when Brock Purdy exited the NFC title game with an injury. If the 49ers can reach the mountaintop and claim a Super Bowl title, they will win the trade. If not, it is a failure by any measure.

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