The Detroit Lions’ decisions in free agency will soon come to a head as the offseason period starts and the negotiation window opens across the league.
When that happens, the Lions will have multiple choices to make. A reunion with key defender John Cominsky as well as running back Jamaal Williams could be the first orders of business, but other goals could exist.
Namely, what will Detroit decide to do with wideout DJ Chark? Like Williams, he was a key part of the offense in 2022, but is now hitting free agency. Should the Lions get involved in Chark’s market and try to keep him around as well?
The answer is a resounding no according to Bleacher Report and writer David Kenyon. Ahead of free agency, Kenyon took a look at naming some players that each team should let walk. For Detroit, Chark was the easy answer.
As Kenyon explained, the Lions could have a ready-made replacement waiting to step up in the form of Jameson Williams, who was a rookie recovering off injury in 2022. That could allow them to spend their money elsewhere on defense.
“The rationale here is simple: Jameson Williams has recovered from an ACL injury and is primed to handle a featured role in 2023. Detroit’s issues on defense far outweigh the need for DJ Chark as a complementary receiver to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Williams,” Kenyon wrote in the piece.
This offseason, the Lions have maintained that they expect big things from Williams during the 2023 season, so giving him a bigger role would seem to be in the cards for Detroit easily. It could be a good reason the team elects to let Chark walk when all is said and done.
Additionally, the free agency market at wideout is not deep, which means Chark could get blown away by an offer. In such a scenario, the Lions might not want to match an offer given their defensive issues and how they could be expected to fix them quickly.
If Chark ends up on a different team in the end, these could be the biggest reasons why.
Detroit’s Wide Receiver Depth Looking Strong
If Chark leaves, the Lions could still elect to negotiate with someone on the open market to add a bit of depth to their group.
Financially speaking, and relative to the needs of the team on defense, the Lions would not be expected to make a splash for a top name on the market in that situation. Almost certainly, the team would have to explore a bargain buy a bit further down the board from some of the top names, especially if they were not willing to bring Chark back.
Some of the more underrated names on the free agency market include Parris Campbell of Indianapolis, Noah Brown of Dallas and Jamison Crowder of Buffalo.
Another option for Detroit? Simply draft another wideout for depth’s sake. Already, the team connected with some intriguing options there especially during the NFL combine. Michigan State’s Jayden Reed or TCU’s Quentin Johnston
As a whole, the Lions are in good position in terms of their roster depth at wide receiver. Detroit has Amon-Ra St. Brown, Williams, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus at the position, so it’s a fairly deep group.
It would be up to Brad Holmes whether or not to make an addition to this group at all. No matter what happens, the Lions could look to be in very good shape right now at receiver.
DJ Chark’s 2022 Stats With Lions
In terms of Chark’s 2022 season in Detroit, injuries prevented it from really taking off as well as it could have in a bigger way.
While Chark missed time early with injury, this past season, he did manage to put up a total of 502 yards and three touchdowns on 30 catches. His highlight reel from the season is pretty impressive though the stats are a bit limited:
More importantly, though, Chark seemed to come on down the stretch over the last few critical weeks of the season with major plays. Against Green Bay in Week 18, Chark made a pair of clutch catches on fourth-down amid Detroit’s 20-16 upset win, culminating in an eight-yard catch on fourth-and-one to put the game away.
The Lions didn’t see a huge production from Chark, but he made enough plays where he could be expected to deliver if he comes back, and could be a trusted target of Jared Goff.
In the end, that might not matter much to the Lions, who are being encouraged to let him sign a major contract elsewhere for next season.