Analyst Reveals Potential Next Contract Demand for Lions’ WR DJ Chark

DJ Chark

Getty DJ Chark gestures during Lions training camp in 2022.

The Detroit Lions will have to make a decision with regards to wideout DJ Chark, and the call might be tough given what played out last year.

When he was healthy, Chark was a solid weapon for the Lions, and commanded attention late in the season with plenty of big plays. Problem being, he missed a portion of the season with an ankle injury, and was only able to show his stuff late.

Last year, injury impacted Chark’s market enough that the Lions took a flier on him for one-year and $10 million dollars. The move ended up being a decent one for the Lions by the end of the season, but now, there’s a decision to be made on Chark.

With free agency around the corner, what could the wideout command on the open market? With a thin class at wideout and plenty of needy teams, Chark could end up being a popular case.

That’s why Ian Wharton of The Draft Network has been breaking down some notable free agency cases, and turned his attention to Chark within a piece. As he explained, Chark is going to have a complicated case because he has an injury history and didn’t quite completely prove himself last year.

“Considering Robert Woods, Allen Robinson, and Robbie Anderson are getting north of $14.75 million a year, Chark at $10-$13 million a year is a respectable number. I’d expect him to get another short-term deal that allows him to prove himself and possibly the market again in 2024,” he wrote.

Wharton predicted teams like Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, the New York Giants, Houston, Baltimore, and Indianapolis to perhaps show interest given their cap space as well as need for wide receivers. None of those teams minus perhaps the Giants or Ravens are currently major contenders, which could factor into Chark’s decision making.

A similar deal to last season might be a win for the Lions, who could keep Chark comfortable in their offense and continue to let him grow. Whether this is the case or Chark is looking for something else will remain to be seen

Chark’s 2022 Stats With Lions

In terms of Chark’s season in Detroit last year, 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 with the Lions. 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 if he does so.

Chark’s Free Agency Case Complicated

No matter what money he gets, Wharton makes a legitimate point that Chark is going to be one of the more interesting cases on the market, and that’s due mostly to his injury history.

As Wharton wrote, Chark’s health history could prove a major variable for interested teams.

“The thing working against Chark’s market value is his durability. He’s played more than 13 games in a season only once in his career. He was solid in his playing time in 2022 but missing six games is a tough factor for any general manager to account for,” he said in the piece.

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.

The Lions have a big decision to make in the coming days, and it’s safe to say if Chark isn’t re-signed fast, the team could be electing to let him move on when the new league year begins in March.

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