‘I Like It There:’ Another Top Lions’ Free Agent Seems Open to Return

DJ Chark

Getty DJ Chark makes a catch for the Lions in training camp 2022.

The Detroit Lions are building a strong culture in their locker room, and that is evident given the praise it has generated in recent days.

Additionally, another way to tell if a team is having success is how many free agent players desire returning. So far, the Lions have no shortage of those on defense, with names like Isaiah Buggs and John Cominsky taking their hopes for a deal public in recent days.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions have a decision to make with wideout DJ Chark. Do they let Chark walk away, or re-sign him again and continue to allow him to show the chemistry he seemed to develop within the offense late season?

In terms of Chark, there seems to be interest from his side about a return as well. Speaking with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Equanimeous St. Brown on The 33rd Team, Chark discussed his feelings heading into free agency. As he said, a return to the Lions would ‘be great’ all things considered.

“Going into this year man, I’m trying not to even worry about what’s gonna happen. I feel like, you know, I’m gonna be where I’m supposed to be. If that’s Detroit, that’d be great because I got some real good friendships and I like it there and it’s really good. But, it’s a business. You never know, so we’ll see how that goes, but it’ll be smooth regardless,” Chark said on the show.

The Lions will have to decide on their end whether or not to bring back Chark for 2023, and what type of a deal to offer. That deal will not only have to make sense for Chark, but the team as well. There’s plenty to sort out on that front in the weeks ahead.

Nevertheless, the team has to like hearing that Chark, a top wideout in this market, would be open to a return. That’s big news considering how well a top-four Lions offense performed last season, and Chark’s role within it.

Chark Dishes on 2022 Free Agency Process

Last March, Chark signed a one-year, $10 million dollar deal with Detroit. When the process got going, the wideout knew that he was going to attract some attention on the market, but it didn’t end up playing out exactly the way he thought.

As Chark explained to the St. Brown’s, a big part of the process every year involves the rumor mill. He saw the articles keeping tabs on what teams could call, but in the end, things didn’t work out that way, even as he did get another offer.

“The teams there I was linked to never really called, so it was teams I wasn’t expecting. Detroit being one that I felt was the most serious about bringing me in. I had another team that had a pretty good offer honestly, but it didn’t really feel like the right fit,” Chark said.

Then came Detroit, a spot that not only offered Chark competitive salary, but the chance to excel given who he would be playing with on the field. That, combined with the team’s brass, made the situation perfect for him.

“When I looked at the Lions, I saw (Jared Goff) who I thought was pretty solid. I saw that they had (Amon-Ra) St. Brown, so I was like, ‘when I go over there, it won’t be like everybody’s on you. Everybody’s gonna be on him already because he’s already balling as a rookie, so that’s only going to continue,'” Chark said. “It felt right, so I made that decision. Then when I got up there and talked to the coaches and GM, all that felt right. Then everybody was cool too, so I made the right decision I felt like.”

Given the fact Chark put up 502 yards on 30 receptions with three touchdowns and several clutch caches, it seems that was easily the case. Whether it will be again remains to be seen, but the fact is, he seems to appreciate what he has in Detroit as a whole.

Chark’s 2023 Contract Predicted by Analyst

When he hits the market this year, what kind of deal could Chark be expected to haul in? Predicting that is tough to do, but already, some folks are trying ahead of the market opening next month.

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.

So, too, could be the fact that he appreciates the Lions and the love they’ve already shown. If that happens again, Chark could clearly be opening to returning for 2023.

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