Top Lions Free Agent Instructed to Seek Contract Elsewhere for 2023

DJ Chark

Getty DJ Chark makes a catch for the Lions in 2022 against Minnesota.

The Detroit Lions have multiple free agent returns on the radar for 2023, and plenty of big decisions to make in the weeks ahead with regards to what could happen.

Wide receiver DJ Chark is a player that will have a lot of questions about what might happen moving forward. Will he return to Detroit, or will he find a much better market elsewhere?

Some answers on that issue might have been provided courtesy of Bleacher Report. Writer Gary Davenport took a look at picking out free agent players who might star in 2023 elsewhere, and Chark made the list from the Lions.

As Davenport explained, with other big-time wideouts now included in Detroit’s attack, Chark might find targets hard to come by within the team’s offense in 2023. That could mean, in Davenport’s opinion, he should look elsewhere for a job. Perhaps even with the rival Chicago Bears.

“Chark’s role in Motown isn’t likely to increase next season. Amon-Ra St. Brown is Jared Goff’s unquestioned favorite target. Jameson Williams should be a big part of the Lions offense in 2023 after barely playing as a rookie. But if Chark lands with a receiver-needy team like the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns or New York Giants, he could see a sizable increase in target share,” Davenport wrote in the piece.

While many might think this is the case, it’s also true that the Lions leaned on Chark down the stretch in big ways. He made two clutch fourth-down catches in Week 18 to help the Lions defeat Green Bay.

Moreover, Chark seems to have embraced the locker room and the team. The wideout is currently on a one-year, $10 million dollar deal that will expire in 2023. The team will have to decide if he is worth a long-term investment or not.

Looking at Chark’s 2022 Stats With Lions

In terms of Chark’s season in Detroit, injuries prevented it from really taking off as well as it could have in a bigger way.

This season, Chark put up a total of 502 yards and three touchdowns on 30 catches. More importantly, though, he seemed to come on down the stretch over the last few critical weeks of the season with major plays.

Chark would finish with 98 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 4, and achieve a measure of revenge against his former team. All day long, he was a dependable receiver for the Lions, and made the kind of plays the Lions had been hoping for with the deep ball.

From there, Chark has gone on to have a few more other fantastic games. He posted a 94 yard, one-touchdown game in a 34-23 win against Minnesota. Then, he collected a 108-yard performance against Carolina in Week 16 with a few fantastic catches:

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.

Lions Should Consider Keeping Chark

In spite of some reservations otherwise, the Lions should consider sticking with Chark. The biggest question Brad Holmes will have to answer regarding the wideout this offseason revolves around who the real player might be outside of the statistics.

Is Chark the injury-prone guy who started the season by dropping a few passes, then getting dinged up and having to be shelved? Or is he the guy who has surged down the stretch and looked like a major piece within Detroit’s offense?

There’s something to be said for comfort, and Chark seems to fit in well with the Lions roster as well as Jared Goff. It’s more than possible the injury problems to start the year were simply a fluke, and bad luck for a Detroit team that’s had more than its fair share this season.

When he is on, Chark seems like an easy 80-100 yard pass catcher most weeks. That’s big production for a Detroit offense that has needed some of the deep ball jolts he has been able to provide. Since he’s come back, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of big plays Detroit’s offense generates.

Chark may not be the sexiest name on the market this year, but he already fits Detroit and knows the scheme. For that reason, it might be smart of Detroit to keep him in the mix.

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