While the wide receiver market explodes across the NFL, the Detroit Lions filled their big hole with a bargain in D.J. Chark on a one-year, prove-it deal.
Chark inked a fully guaranteed $10 million contract with the Lions, with additional incentives, in March. The 25-year-old former second-round pick burst onto the scene with a Pro Bowl 2019 campaign, generating 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on 73 catches. The past two seasons, he's dealt with injuries, including a fractured ankle that relegated him to just four games in 2021.
Last week, Lions general manager Brad Holmes told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he and his staff zeroed in on Chark ahead of free agency as a player who fits their mold.
"We go through the process, and I've said it before, there are so many guys you're looking at (in free agency) and a lot of these guys that got these big deals you're looking at," Holmes said. "But there are certain favorites that just emerge through that process and D.J. was one of them. He just fit what we're about. We have a lot of collaboration sessions, just coaching and personnel and getting on the same page and just to hear (WR coach Antwaan) Randle El and (offensive coordinator) Ben Johnson just talk about what they're looking for at the receiver position. And everybody talks about the X receiver position, but Ben is a pretty creative guy -- he's got no problem moving guys around. But D.J. fit a lot of those qualities about having speed, explosiveness, length. And he's a football player."
At 6-foot-4, Chark boasts the length and speed to be a vertical, boundary threat who the Lions missed last season after Marvin Jones moved to Jacksonville.
Still in the early stages of a rebuild, the Chark deal is the perfect type of contract Holmes and Detroit should be targeting: a young player with upside who could be a massive steal if healthy, but on a short contract, so there is no future risk if it doesn't pan out. It also won't stop the Lions from selecting a receiver early in the draft later this month if one of their top targets falls.
If Chark stays healthy, he is an ideal field-stretching complement to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who should be Jared Goff's primary target in 2022.