The Detroit Lions have signed a wide receiver in free agency, bringing DJ Chark in on a deal that works well for both sides.
After sitting out of major moves on the first day of the NFL free agency frenzy, the Detroit Lions have made a move to kickoff Day 2. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Lions will sign wide receiver DJ Chark to a one-year deal worth $10 million, fully guaranteed.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has added the deal is worth “up to” $12 million, which inherently contradicts the idea (and Rapoport’s report) that it’s fully guaranteed.
Chark spent the first four seasons of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since topping 1,000 yards in 2019 (1,008 yards, on 73 catches with eight touchdowns), he missed three games in 2020 and a broken ankle sidelined him after four games last season.
DJ Chark looks like a perfect fit for the Lions
At the Senior Bowl in early February, Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El offered a profile for an “X” receiver.
We’re going to be searching for a guy that can go in and help our offense put this ball down the field and really be a guy that we can — I shouldn’t just say throw it up, but we know backside X, they’re going to roll the coverage to St. Brown on the frontside,” Randle El explained. “We know we can get man one-on-one on the backside, let’s get that ball over there, knowing he’s going to win. That’s the idea behind it.”
More recently, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson backed Randle El’s idea.
(We need) a guy who can consistently win one-on-one,” “Whether that’s a big guy with a lot of strength and size, or whether that’s a guy with elite quickness or speed, I think it comes a number of different ways. But that’s what we’re looking for, is someone that outside the numbers, predominantly, can win a one-on-one. And if he’s good at his job, dictates coverage. So they recognize where he is at all times, and start rolling (coverage) his way, which will open us up for the run game and everything else inside. So that’s really what we want.”
Chark is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, and his average depth of target (via Pro Football Reference) topped 16 yards in his abbreviated 2021 sample of work. His red zone potential feels like it’s untapped, and the guaranteed investment the Lions have made in him assures they have plans for him to be heavily involved. As they were lined up to be priced out of the very top of the wide receiver market, after Christian Kirk got the deal he got from Jacksonville, Chark was an even more ideal target.
Chark, coming off an injury-truncated season, was likely left to choose from a set of one-year, prove-it deals on the open market. He chose the opportunity for a big role in Detroit, and if he plays well a longer stay in a Lions’ uniform is not out of the question.