D.J. Chark’s Contract Reveals Happy Surprise for Lions in 2022

D.J. Chark

Getty D.J. Chark runs on the field before a game for the Jaguars in 2019.

Navigating the free agency waters isn’t always easy for NFL teams, but the Detroit Lions have done a nice job with it so far and could be poised to continue to do so in the future.

Thus far, the deals the team has done have been very sensible and should allow the team to remain aggressive through the first part of the new league year. Detroit’s biggest deal they have reportedly reached was with D.J. Chark on a one-year, $12 million dollar pact.

The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Lions!

At first, it appeared as if the Lions were going to be looking at a major cap hit for signing Chark, but as is often the case, the devil is in the details and the details of this particular contract are quite good for the Lions. Detroit is actually signing Chark to a contract which includes around a $4 million dollar total cap hit for 2022. That should allow the team to be even more active in free agency in the coming days as they try to fill out their needs.

How did the Lions do this? By incentivizing Chark’s deal and adding voidable years in 2023 and 2024, as Aaron Wilson pointed out with a tweet. It was a nifty move for the team.

“D.J. Chark Lions deal one for $10 million, all guaranteed, $8.965 million signing bonus, $1.035M salary (gtd), up to $3M catches, yards, touchdowns incentive, has voidable 2023, 2024 years for accounting purposes,” Wilson tweeted.

Chark’s contract is very obviously a prove-it deal for him as well as the Lions, and that’s the good news for Detroit. If he delivers, there’s a good chance the Lions will have cashed in on a major value in the year the free agency market has gone wild so far at wide receiver.

It could be chalked up as yet another savvy move for the Lions when all is said and done, and one which helps the team fill out their needs in a more broad way the rest of the offseason.

Lions’ 2022 Cap Space Update

So how much do the Lions have left to spend during the 2022 free agency period? The team still has plenty of money with which to work under the cap with these deals in mind. Conservatively, the Lions could have around $16 million or more in cap space currently, figuring in a possible $11 million total to sign their 2023 draft class. Twitter user Lions Royalty crunched some of the up to date numbers in real-time.

That number could be even higher with the reported financials on the Chark deal, perhaps back into the $21 million dollar neighborhood which could leave the Lions in good position to strike on some potential other upgrades on the market, especially on the defensive side of the ball where reinforcements are badly needed.

Detroit will likely roll some money over for the rest of the offseason and regular season in case emergency arises, but so far, the team is off to a very admirable start in terms of spending. The business they have done with their own free agents has been reasonable enough to where the team can come out ahead after free agency.

Lions’ 2022 Free Agency Reset

Early on in the process, the Lions have looked mostly at re-signing their own free agents. The team has made solid re-signings with wideouts Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond, edge rusher Charles Harris, safety D.J. Moore, offensive lineman Evan Brown, linebacker Alex Anzalone as well as safety Tracy Walker. Those moves, while not sexy, have been important to build the culture for the team.

What is next for the Lions to do? For starters, the team needs to think about bolstering the defense in a bigger way. Help could be needed up front and on the back end and potentially at linebacker as well, and that is even with counting the team’s additions from within.

In his first offseason, Lions general manager Brad Holmes shied away from big deals, focusing instead on smaller deals to help supplement his roster. Several of those deals have panned out, from names like Raymond to Harris. The same approach could be expected this offseason, so the Lions might make a few bigger splashes while choosing to focus on multiple other smaller splashes to help supplement things moving forward.

Whatever the Lions do, they should have a decent amount of cash with which to operate.

READ NEXT: Lions Reportedly Show Interest in Bobby Wagner

Read More