As he lingers available on the market, will DJ Chark end up coming back to the Detroit Lions?
As free agency dawned, it was fair to wonder if wide receiver DJ Chark would sign quickly and what kind of deal he’d get. He was unquestionably one of the better options in a thin class at the position, which seems possible to push him to contract marks the Detroit Lions would not meet to re-sign him.
Plenty of teams have been easy to tab as potential suitors for Chark. But now into the second week of free agency, such speculation has not yielded a deal yet. After a report the Carolina Panthers wanted to sign him and Adam Thielen (they have signed Thielen), NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Chark has had talks with the Lions about a return.
The list of teams who could sign Chark remains decently long, and the top of the free agent deals for wide receivers has been set at $11 million per year. Chark would surely like a multi-year deal. But an overall disappointing 2022 season with the Lions (30 catches, 502 yards and three touchowns in 11 games), and an ankle injury dampening his last two seasons stands as a potential red flag for teams.
Most recently, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports has matched Chark with the New Orleans Saints and Christian D’Andrea of USA TODAY’s “For The Win” matched Chark with the Indianapolis Colts. Both make sense to some degree, especially as Chark’s cost drops.
NFL free agency: Will DJ Chark just end up coming back to the Detroit Lions?
The longer Chark lingers available, the prospect of him taking another one-year deal somewhere grows. That would seem to drop him into a range the Lions might be comfortable bringing him back on, and there’s no denying the x-factor he was in the offense late last season when he was healthy.
On Tuesday, Ryan Ermanni and Braylon Edwards of Woodward Sports Network discussed Chark and they are on board with bringing him back.
It still seems no better than a coin-flip chance Chark ends up re-signing with the Lions, if only based on an opportunity for a large role being more likely elsewhere. But it is a better possibility than it seemed to be two weeks ago, if nothing else, and the door remains open if the two sides have engaged in talks recently.