Bills Rumors: Lions $28 Million WR Named Top Free Agency Target

D.J. Chark

Getty DJ Chark #4 of the Detroit Lions reacts after a reception against the Jaguars at Ford Field on December 04, 2022.

After the Buffalo Bills‘ journey to the Super Bowl was cut woefully short by a demoralizing 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional round, the consensus seems to be that one of the biggest issues the team must address this offseason is acquiring a solid wide receiver to back up Stefon Diggs.

While Gabe Davis was projected to be the team’s WR2 following his breakout performance in the playoffs last season, he fell short of expectations. The 23-year-old wide receiver is still a valuable asset, but New York Upstate‘s Matt Parrino urged the Bills to target Detriot Lions’ free agent D.J. Chark in order to boost competition at the position.

“Chark has high-end speed – he ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine in 2018 – and that’s something the Bills are missing on the outside opposite Diggs,” Parrino wrote. “The Chark move is a big swing for a Bills team that has to have one eye on the future. They ask Davis to do a lot – he lines up all over the formation and is their best run blocker. But he’s set to make some good money when his contract is up at around $13 million per season.

“They may be ready to pay him that number but landing a bigger fish in free agency at receiver this offseason gives them another option, especially if they draft a receiver, too. Chark can play multiple spots and with Diggs he’ll play opposite the most established receiver he’s played with in his career.”

Chark Is Expected to Receive Offers From Multiple Teams

DJ Chark

GettyLions wide Receiver DJ Chark #4 runs with the ball while being chased by Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox #29 on September 11, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.

After spending the first four years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Pro Bowler signed a one-year, $10 million “prove it” deal with the Lions. While he initially struggled to get on the same page with quarterback Jared Goff, and an ankle injury caused him to miss several games, the LSU alum found his rhythm in the back half of the season.

During the final seven-game stretch, he caught 23 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns, which was on pace for 1,00 yard season if he played all 17 games. In his 11 game appearances, he recorded 30 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns.

The former second-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft told The Detriot News last month that he’d love to stay with the Lions, as he built “a good relationship not only with the players, but the coaches,” he also understands this is a business “with numbers and all of that.”

“I’m a big believer and I’m going to let my faith go before me and I feel I’ll end up in the right place,” Chark said. “I think this is a great place for me. If it works out, I definitely wouldn’t mind sitting here talking to you from this same locker. We just have to see how it goes, but I’m pleased with everything, even the bumps in the road I had this (season), I’m pleased with how things went.”

Analysts have linked Chark to several teams as a possible fit, including the Minnesota Vikings. USA Today‘s Judd Zulgad wrote on February 2, “The 6-foot-4 Chark, who will turn 27 in September, would provide the Vikings with a vertical threat. He averaged 16.7 yards on 30 receptions with three touchdowns this season but figures to be pursued by multiple clubs.”

Beane Could Find a Way to Make Chark’s Salary Work

Brandon Beane

GettyGeneral Manager of the Buffalo Bills walks out to the field before the game against the Washington Football Team at Highmark Stadium on September 26, 2021.

Per, Chark is in the market to land a three-year, $28.7 million contract, which is on the high end for a cash-strapped team, but not impossible. And due to the question mark that is Chark’s ability to stay healthy, Pro Football Network Ian Wharton wrote, “I’d expect him to get another short-term deal that allows him to prove himself.”

Bills general manager Brandon Beane said during his end-of-year press conference that they need to get “creative” in rebuilding for the 2023 season since they’re approximately $24 million over the salary cap. “There’s not going to be a Von Miller signing,” Beane said, referring to the $120 million they plunked down for the veteran edge rusher last year, but that doesn’t mean Buffalo won’t be active in the free agency market. “We’ll do things. We may have to rework a few contracts.”

“We gotta hit on draft picks, we gotta find low-cost free agents that can find roles, whether it’s key backup, a solid starter, whatever it is. It’ll be on me and our scouting staff to make the right moves.”

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