Former Pro-Bowl WR and ‘Vertical Threat’ Linked to Patriots

Getty D.J. Chark

At face value, the New England Patriots don’t appear to have a ton of money to spend in free agency. According to Over the Cap, the team has $7.3 million of cap space.

However, they could free up $33.8 million if they simply restructure the deals of a few veterans. If they go that route, the Patriots might be able to sign a few low-cost, high-performing free-agents–especially ones who could benefit from signing a one-year prove-it deal.

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Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine named Jacksonville Jaguars free-agent wide receiver and former Pro-Bowler D.J. Chark as a potential “vertical threat” for the Patriots.

DJ Chark is an Intriguing Option for the Patriots

Injuries have been a major factor for Chark during his brief NFL career. The 25-year-old out of LSU missed 13 games in 2021, and he has missed a total of 22 in four years.

The 6’4″ speedster showed flashes of what he could be on the football field in 2019 when he hauled in 73 catches for 1,008 yards and 8 TDs. Chark was elected to the Pro Bowl for that season, but the 2020 season saw a bit of a falloff.

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Chark missed three games and his production dipped. In 2020, Chark had 53 receptions for 706 yards and 5 TDs, and he missed three games. The 2021 season was especially bad for Chark. He played in just 4 games making 7 receptions for 154 yards and 2 TDs.

Because he is still so young, he still has some upside. If he can remain healthy, he could produce like a No. 1 receiver. That’s something the Patriots desperately need. With all due respect to Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor, Chark would likely come in and become the top receiver in New England if he was signed.

With Chark coming off such a poor season in 2021, it might be unrealistic for him to sign a long-term and lucrative deal. Instead, a one-year contract that is worth $7 million for the 2022 season might be more in line with what he can expect. That also figures to be the kind of deal the Patriots would be willing to offer considering it won’t time them up for years to come.

This just might be the right time for Chark and the Patriots to link.

The Patriots No. Free-Agent Matter is J.C. Jackson

While talk of adding a potential No. 1 receiver in New England will never die–unless of course the team actually finds one–the top free-agent story in Patriots Nation is related to J.C. Jackson.

The Patriots’ star cornerback is an unrestricted free agent due for a major payday, one way or another. New England has three options with Jackson: they could franchise tag him, meaning they would pay him an average of the top-5 cornerbacks in the NFL. Bill Belichick could still trade Jackson this year after franchise tagging him.

New England could simply sign him to the mega deal he’s earned while racking up 25 interceptions in four seasons. That seems unlikely considering the Patriots normally don’t do that sort of thing.

Lastly, the Patriots could simply allow him to walk in free agency. That decision would be met with tons of criticism and it seems like the least likely result. Stay tuned for the developments on that front as it might ultimately impact other Patriots free-agent decisions, including a potential pursuit of a wide receiver like Chark.

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